Tuesday, May 13, 2014

Review: The Murder Complex by Lindsay Cummings


The first half of this book was great. It was the kind of great where I had no idea what was going on, but I was interested in finding out. In the battle between questions and answers, questions were dominating. But I was ready for answers to rebound, thinking they'd lose the battle but win the war. I was on board with the no-prisoners-taking heroine and the strong, weeping hero.

And then I started wondering if I was actually going to get any answers.
And then the questions kept winning battles, because when the answers came to fight, they weren't armed with explanations.

I think there is a particular brand of science fiction that I just don't get along with very well. It's the kind that makes good science evil, and lets it take over the entire story. When all of the background information and even the character histories revolve around the futuristic science of the book, I can't deal. I need more than that. I need characters to be people and have relationships, not just experiments whose relationships are defined by their world. I need subtlety and complexity built into every character, in the ways they act and react, in the way they treat others and how they communicate, and in the way they see the world. I need to know without a doubt that in a given situation, this character would not do anything differently. I need a string of affection or hatred or some powerful connective emotion to attach me to a character. 

These characters have the strings, ready to tie themselves to me, but they never quite got around to the tying.

As for the plot... well. This book was so bloody and action-packed it's almost like nothing else mattered. Aptly, people drop like flies in The Murder Complex, and our heroine is so busy cracking necks and thrusting (not shooting!) arrows through eyeballs that I think she's trying to distract us from the scatterbrained plot and the fact that all but one of her relationships are one-dimensional and boring. When I wasn't asking myself, "What the flux is going on?" I was asking myself, "And I'm supposed to care about this... why?" Absolutely nothing about this book was subtle. There were no undertones, no characters worming their way into my heart, it was just. constant. ACTION. At one point I was exhausted for Meadow, when I figured it was finally time for her to rest and suddenly her father* wanted to do some training. What did she do? She kept going. Kudos to you, Meadow, but I'm human, and I'm a fan of sleeping after I've been running and fighting and killing all day-- no, all week. 

Basically, there wasn't anything about this book that didn't keep me interested. It was just that there also wasn't anything that kept me caring. It was all action and science and bad guys, and not a whole lot of human moments. And the human moments are kind of why I read in the first place.

*her relationship with her father is the one I mentioned that is not one-dimensional or boring. Her judgment is so clouded that she thinks he doesn't love her because he's always only cared about training her-- but she slowly comes to realize, why does he train her so hard? Because he needs her to survive. Because he can't lose her. He doesn't show affection because he thinks it toughens her up. Brilliant.