(DNF) Review: “The Death Code” by Lindsay Cummings

Title: The Death Code (The Murder Complex #2)22836576

Author: Lindsay Cummings

Publisher: Greenwillow Books/HarperCollins

Publication Date: May 26, 2015

Rating: ⭐

With short, fast-paced, alternating point-of-view chapters, The Death Code starts several weeks after The Murder Complex ended. Zephyr keeps the secret about Meadow close—that if she dies, The Murder Complex will be destroyed, too. Meadow, desperate to find her brother, father, and little sister, is determined to fearlessly fight to the end, even if it means sacrificing herself and her friends, new and old. The Death Code introduces a memorable cast of secondary characters and delivers a vivid and scary thrill ride read

If you follow my blog, you’ll know that I didn’t recommend The Murder Complex, the first book in Lindsay Cummings’ debut duology. But that one ended in a cliffhanger and the curious part of me still wanted to know how things turn out for Meadow, Zephyr and the rest of the characters still alive at the end of book one, so I picked up The Death Code.

I did not finish it.

The Death Code was, more or less, like its predecessor in that both books had the same problems. Though there were definitely more effort put into worldbuilding and character development, it still felt patchy and half-cooked.

The first part of TDC was the best part of the whole duology. Continuing where TMC left off, we find Meadow and Zephyr separated – Meadow captured and, together with Sketch, imprisoned and tortured by the Initiative; Zephyr, meanwhile, found safety with the Resistance. Things became more interesting when Lark’s twin sister, Sparrow, finally surfaced.

However, in the second part, things started to get weird.

After being rescued by the Resistance, Meadow, Zephyr and Sketch venture out of the Perimeter. They are captured by a group of outsiders who, because of lack of food, eats human flesh (😲‼️ 😲 ‼️) Just before being cooked, the trio were (again) rescued. The man brings the trio to the New Militia – a group built upon what remained of the US military (at least that’s how things seemed to me).

Getting a short history lesson from the General, one of the NM’s leaders, Meadow finds out more about the world her mother ruined. The general then asks Meadow to join the NM and fight with them. She agrees seeing this as her only way to rescue her family who are being held captive by the Initiative at the Ridge, another experimental site which was said to be more brutal than the Shallows.

I stopped reading 66% into the book. The weak writing was just too hard to ignore. Add to that the stilted character development and the wonky worldbuilding.

I really wanted to like this duology because the idea behind it was interesting and I honestly think Lindsay Cummings could have done more with it. Instead, she gave readers something unoriginal. Both TMC and TDC strayed too close to the lines drawn by earlier YA dystopian series -The Hunger Games, Divergent, Delirium, The Maze Runner – almost to the point of copying them. It was just something I couldn’t ignore.

This duology was a big let-down for me.

Review: Lindsay Cummings’ “The Murder Complex” (The Murder Complex #1)

13576132Title: The Murder Complex (The Murder Complex #)

Author: Lindsay Cummings

Publisher: Greenwillow Books/HarperCollins

Publication Date: June 10, 2014

Rating: ⭐





I remember the hype this book garnered pre-publishing. A bloody, survivalist futuristic thriller — I was all for it.  I quickly added it to my Want-to-Read shelf on Goodreads, but somehow I kept pushing in down my priority list.

Now, I see why my gut told me to hold off.

Meadow Woodson, a fifteen-year-old girl who has been trained by her father to fight, to kill, and to survive in any situation, lives with her family on a houseboat in Florida. The state is controlled by The Murder Complex, an organization that tracks the population with precision.

The plot starts to thicken when Meadow meets Zephyr James, who is—although he doesn’t know it—one of the MC’s programmed assassins. Is their meeting a coincidence? Destiny? Or part of a terrifying strategy? And will Zephyr keep Meadow from discovering the haunting truth about her family?


The Murder Complex is the problematic love child of every other YA dystopia.

“Kill or be killed.”

That is the running idea backing The Murder Complex. Set in a futuristic Florida where murder is used to control a burgeoning population, TMC tried to be unique and edgy, but only ended up being a confused, hyped-up mess.

This book has a lot of problems, starting with one of the most basic part of any story — worldbuilding.

TMC gives up bits and pieces of its world thru the narrative of both main characters, Meadow and Zephyr. In hindsight, this could have worked upping up the intrigue factor and pushing any reader to continue turning the page if only to find out the what, why and how of the protagonists’ world.

This method, however, fails to work for the author and this book. Instead of setting up a fascinating world, the scattering of information necessary for worldbuilding only created a disjointed and incohesive- sometimes outright confusing – telling of things.

Another major problem I had with this book were the characters. They were both unrelatable and unbelievable, especially the female MC, Meadow. She was written as this badass teen-aged ass kicker trained by her father to kill. Strong, mentally tough, always succeeds, and, if her male counterpart Zephyr is to be believed, beautiful. In short, she’s an impossible character, and I just couldn’t find it in myself to care for her even after I finished reading.

There are a lot more, but I won’t go over the rest. Overall, The Murder Complex disappointed. From the worldbuilding to its characters down to the romance, TMC is so fraught with problems that, sadly, I cannot recommend it.