Dystopian YA Reviews #2: After the End by Amy Plum & The Murder Complex by Lindsay Cummings

January 5, 2015 by Jeann @ Happy Indulgence | 2 stars, 3 stars, Books, Reviews

Dystopian YA Reviews #2: After the End by Amy Plum & The Murder Complex by Lindsay CummingsAfter the End by Amy Plum
Published by HarperCollins on May 6, 2014
Source: Edelweiss, Publisher
Genres: Contemporary, Dystopian, Paranormal, Young Adult
Amazon | Book Depository
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She’s searching for answers to her past. They’re hunting her to save their future.

World War III has left the world ravaged by nuclear radiation. A lucky few escaped to the Alaskan wilderness. They've survived for the last thirty years by living off the land, being one with nature, and hiding from whoever else might still be out there.

At least, this is what Juneau has been told her entire life.

When Juneau returns from a hunting trip to discover that everyone in her clan has vanished, she sets off to find them. Leaving the boundaries of their land for the very first time, she learns something horrifying: There never was a war. Cities were never destroyed. The world is intact. Everything was a lie.

Now Juneau is adrift in a modern-day world she never knew existed. But while she's trying to find a way to rescue her friends and family, someone else is looking for her. Someone who knows the extraordinary truth about the secrets of her past.

As I was warned, After The End isn’t a dystopian but instead, a contemporary/dystopian blend. It features an interesting outlook from a girl who thinks that World War III has happened and that her clan are the only survivors, but finds out she was lied to all along.

Juneau has lived in the Alaskan wilderness all of her life, and when her clan goes missing, she stumbles upon civilization in her search. I could not imagine how incredibly unsettling and traumatic this would be, and Juneau gets accustomed to the new world and technology a bit too quickly and easily. For someone who was brought up in the wilderness, without anyone to teach her what things are, she gets used to the idea of iPhones a bit too easily and doesn’t display signs of trauma or shock. Searching for Sky was a reverse dystopian who did this aspect really well, which influenced my thoughts here.

Sorry I tried to impress my dad by finding her. Sorry I’ve been making fun of a brainwashed girl for a delusion she can’t help. Sorry I egged her on just to make my point. 

The other lead character in the book was Miles, whose character I just wasn’t convinced on. I just didn’t know what his intention was; he tracks down Juneau to bring her back to his dad’s organisation, but then he camps out in the woods with her and decides to drive her around. He just thinks Juneau is this weird girl and doesn’t believe everything she says, yet somehow he still ends up having feelings for her. I felt the relationship was quite forced and wasn’t convinced at all, given how close-minded Miles was.

I did like the paranormal aspects in the novel though. Juneau has a star on her right pupil and has powers from ‘connecting to the Yara’, a spiritual guide. She can see through people’s eyes in a fire, morph her appearance, even use people as oracles to guide her way. You’ll wonder why she has these powers to begin with, but surprisingly the ending actually gave a valid explanation for everything. I was actually pretty impressed, given my earlier skepticism. It ends on a pretty annoying cliffhanger though.

It’s just sad how messed up Juneau was raised. Like a cult member. Totally brainwashed. Totally delusional. It almost makes me want to help her. If saving my own skin wasn’t of utmost importance, I would be tempted to try. 


Although After The End had quite a few illogical and unconvincing parts, and a character I was slightly offended at, it still managed to provide an interesting story with an unusual girl. It really made me think how I would react if I was in that situation and what I would do when I found myself alone from everything I ever knew. An interesting concept, as long as you don’t pick it up expecting a dystopian.

Rating: 3 out of 5

I received this book from the publisher via Edelweiss in exchange for an honest review. All quotes have been taken from the ARC which may have changed at the time of publishing. 

murder1The Murder Complex by Lindsay Cummings
Series: The Murder Complex #1
Published by Greenwillow Books on June 10, 2014
Genres: Dystopian, Young Adult
Source: Edelweiss, Publisher
Purchase: Amazon | Book Depository

An action-packed, blood-soaked, futuristic debut thriller set in a world where the murder rate is higher than the birthrate. For fans of Moira Young’s Dust Lands series, La Femme Nikita, and the movie Hanna.

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?

Action-packed, blood-soaked, and chilling, this is a dark and compelling debut novel by Lindsay Cummings.

There are two things which The Murder Complex reminds me of: the Reboot duology and a B grade futuristic cyber punk movie. It’s not the first time cybernetic humans have been involved in a heavy romance where the plot revolves around saving them, which was reminiscent of Reboot by Amy Tintera. The B grade movie part comes from the cool, futuristic setting with many different concepts, but it’s certainly not blockbuster because none of them are fully explored.

Sometimes we have to give up little pieces of our humanity so that we can keep on living. 

The book is set in a complex, futuristic world filled where overpopulation is controlled by giving candidates jobs after they murder their match at the Initiative Center. From the beginning, the world building feels terribly familiar as Meadow is matched against another Initiative at the testing center, her test is inconclusive and she is trying to protect her younger sister Peri. All of these details, down to the train running through the city makes me think Hunger Games and Divergent, which didn’t give me the best impression at the start.

Delving deeper into the book will yield some truly confusing world building that is never really explained. From the population adhering to Commandments, to areas with capitol letters such as the Ward Reserve and the Catalogue Dome, and a whole heap of other terminology like creds, wards and the Dark Time, everything is thrown around willy nilly without an explanation of what it all means. Check out this sentence for example:

“People die. Kids become Wards, and the world’s a big pile of skitz, but so what? There’s nothing you can do about it.” 

Say what? Trying to follow all of it was a frustrating and unnecessary experience.

Like many dystopians, The Murder Complex uses romance as it’s focal point, completely disregarding the confusing mess of the world it built. Instead of the characters at least getting to know each other, Zephyr conveniently dreams of a “moonlit girl with silvery blonde hair” which is of course, Meadow. As soon as he sees Meadow, he’s infatuated with her and the L word is dropped way too soon. Which results in a romance that feels forced, and even when Zephyr tries to kill her as a result of the Murder Complex (another concept which isn’t really explained until half the book is over), Meadow doesn’t stay away.

This has set the precedent then, as Zephyr intentionally smashes her head with a metal pipe as a method of saving her. And then they proceed to kiss passionately. The first time, he had the excuse of not being in control of his own body, but the second was all him. I probably don’t need to say it but this is just so wrong in so many ways. I don’t condone violence against women and no amount of justifying could make that okay.

“My entire life, I have been taught that darkness is death. Darkness is horror, and blood, and now, darkness is when my mother sets her monsters loose.” 

The Murder Complex holds no bars when it comes to the bloody violence in the book with both Zephyr and Meadow creating lots of dead bodies, torturing, jaw snapping and killing. I can understand why Zephyr is overpowered because he’s a killing machine, but having Meadow being relatively untouchable because of her father’s training just makes things unrealistic.


With a confusing futuristic sci-fi dystopian setting and a forced, insta-love romance, The Murder Complex couldn’t redeem itself for me even with it’s interesting kill switch concept. This book was bloody, violent and incredibly frustrating to read, hence my comparison to the B grade movie. It will take a lot these days for a dystopian to wow me, and The Murder Complex wasn’t unique enough to capture and hold my attention. There’s also a frustrating cliffhanger into the next book which I’m not reading.

Rating: 2 out of 5

I received this book from the publisher via Edelweiss in exchange for an honest review.  All quotes have been taken from the ARC which may have changed at the time of publishing. 

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Jeann is an Aussie YA blogger and mum who loves to read and recommend books! You can usually find me fangirling about books on my various social media channels including Twitter @happyindulgence, Instagram and Youtube.

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50 responses to “Dystopian YA Reviews #2: After the End by Amy Plum & The Murder Complex by Lindsay Cummings

  1. I wanted to read this post because I had seen the book The Murder Complex around and not too many reviews of it. It's a shame you didn't like it so much 🙁 For some reason I didn't think it would be a bit dystopian, and although I have nothing against the genre I thought it was more a thriller or so. It's a shame the world is never properly explained because things like that throw me a lot.

    As for the other book, I am not sure I will try that one. It doesn't seem like my type, but thanks for the review!
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  2. Charlene @ Bookish Whimsy

    Wow, both of these sound so disappointing! I was more interested in reading After the End, but now I'm not as intrigued by it. And The Murder Complex sounds like something I would definitely not enjoy – confusing world building and insta-love? No thanks! But thank you for your great reviews! 🙂
    My recent post Thoughts on the Into the Woods film

    • Oh yeah, I would love to hear your thoughts on it if you did pick it up! Yeah, I find dystopians and getting more and more radical to attract attention, but they kind of fall flat.

  3. I wasn't much of a fan of After The End. It started off great and then I just got really bored and annoyed. It's been to long to remember details of why now but your mention of illogical parts were probably why. I remember something about her driving a car like a pro O_o. Anyways. I haven't read TMC yet but the reviews are not really convincing me. It sounds like a really confusing world and one that would need to much brain power for me lol!
    My recent post My Most Anticipated Debut Novels For 2015!

    • I know, I've read so many reviews of After the End, it took me ages to pick it up but I found it at the library which prompted me. That car thing was weird too, like why does she know what the dashboard and seatbelt are? Totally weird.

  4. I was somewhat excited to read these books but not so much anymore :/

    The first book sounds interesting but a bit too harsh and boring to me. The main character does seem a bit unusual. I hate when things are unconvincing. I might pass… Lovely reviews!!

  5. So I've only read The Murder Complex, but I have After the End in my Kindle, and I'm not really looking forward to it after reading your review, tbh. 😛 It sounds really interesting, but I'm not sure how well the whole contemporary slash dystopian thing will work out — contemporaries really aren't my thing. And the romance sounds forced, like it's there because it's expected to be there. Ugh! I don't know how many times I must say this, but YA isn't categorized by romance! STOP FORCING IT, AUTHORS.

    Still, it sounds like it wasn't too bad a read in the end, so I might end up enjoying it once I lower my expectations a little, haha.

    The Murder Complex… goshdamn, that book was such a huge disappointment. It has similar undertones to so many dystopian books in the market, but one thing that made it so much worse is that the author never fully explored the concept behind the Murder Complex, in my opinion. I mean, yeah, we're told the basics, but the entire concept was just never developed and made realistic. Also, it was too complicated for me to understand and remember much about it.

    Lol, the swear words were just ridiculous, too. I understand that it's a new society, so certain words might change, but the new swear words were just so unbelievably lame that I couldn't take any of it seriously. And don't even get me started on the characters. I HATED THEM ALL. Meadow was this emotionless robot, and Zephyr… Okay, I can't remember much about him — which is the whole problem. Also, the romance just ruined everything.

    ^ Oops, sorry for that mini rant. Looks like I still have some pretty strong feelings for the book despite reading it a couple of months ago. xD But anyway, great reviews, Jeann! 🙂

    • I TOTALLY AGREE with authors forcing romance, we can see right through it! I totally agree, The Murder Complex was poor in the world building, like it was meant to be confusing on purpose or something. Haha those swear words were definitely ridiculous….lol no problems Megan, I enjoyed reading your rant!

  6. OMG FINALLY. Sorry I had problems with getting onto your site for a few days and it drove me nuts because it'd just be loading and then after half an hour it would show an error message saying that my internet had issues or something. <.< Trust me, not your problem though. This has been happening to one or two other blogs too.

    ANYHOO. Omg yes I absolutely hated the characters and romance in The Murder Complex. It totally bored me out of my brains–and I had such high hopes! The author is pretty cool to talk to though.

    Nice reviews, Jeann <33
    My recent post Mini Review: Shiver the Whole Night Through by Darragh McManus

  7. Eugenia

    *sigh* I know what you mean Jeann – dystopians, after you've read so many of them, can make it difficult to produce that 'wow' factor that we crave and try to find in books. I don't know if I'll ever get around to reading these (especially with so many promising books coming out this year), but thanks for sharing brilliant reviews as always 🙂
    My recent post Top Ten Tuesday: Most Anticipated Debut Novels For 2015

    • I know, I often find that in any genre that I binge, although that shouldn't be the case! No problems Genie 🙂

  8. Oo. I'm sorry those two didn't turn out as well as you hoped. I think it is pretty unrealistic to automatically get the hang of iPhones and technology after being so isolated from it. And The Murder Complex just sounds really…brutal…and weird. Why did he bash her head with a metal pipe? To save her? What? That's slightly…weird.

    Awesome reviews Jeann! I hope your next reads are better!
    My recent post Nessie Reviews ☆ The Golem and the Jinni

    • Yeah, The Murder Complex really shocked me with the violence in it, and I\’m not easily shocked. It just felt brutal and unnecessary you know? Especially that metal pipe thing, like she was pissed off at him a bit after but then they started kissing. I\’m like WHAT?

  9. I've wanted to read After the End for a while now, because the blurb is so intriguing, but it's upsetting that it doesn't seem very realistic. I don't like unrealistic books, because then I can't enjoy the story without my brain trying to interrupt me at every unrealistic thing. Searching for Sky has also been on my TBR for a while, so maybe I'll try that first. Just from the blurb, The Murder Complex doesn't seem like my type of book. But smashing his love on the head?!? WHAT?!? Ummm…yep, really not my type of book.
    My recent post Book Review: Heartless by Anne Elisabeth Stengl

    • I\’m so happy that you\’re keen on trying out Searching for Sky, because they both were similar concepts but I felt that one was more realistic. It will tear your heart out though, it was so heart breaking. Yeah, I don\’t understand the pipe smashing obviously lol!

  10. I totally agree with you about Miles. I don't think he completely offended me but I never really warmed up to him and the romance between the two seemed to come out of nowhere. At first, I felt like the author was taking it slow which was appreciated but then BAM. Rashika was confused.

    The Murder Complex was definitely a mess IMO. Like you said, it focuses more on the romance than anything else and the world was just a giant mess. The swear words were really annoying too. Blagh. I don't know what happened with that book.

    Lovely minis, Jeann! 🙂

    Hopefully your next read will be/was amazing in comparison! 🙂
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    • The romance definitely felt forced in both of them, I just don\’t know what Miles was attracted to you know? It was very weird. And don\’t even get me started on the Murder Complex. Thanks Rashika!

  11. I'm kind of repelled by this genre now, tbh. Sometimes upon recommendation, I go back to it (Book of Ivy) and then I realise, wow, so that's why I hate dystopias. I can't do it anymore. Granted, I think I ruined my own experience with last year's critical. Eh. These two sound like the epitome of what I dislike unfortunately. After The End looks alright, just a tad boring?? I am looking at Searching For the Sky now because the whole reverse dystopia thing that you mentioned has REALLY intrigued me! Thanks for that one, Jeann! 😀 But yeah, Murder Complex sounds like everything I DO NOT WANT IN A BOOK. Oh holy, that romance. No thank you. I'm happy without it. THANK YOU so much for the honest reviews, Jeann. <3 I was contemplating Murder Complex just because so many people had told me to read it but I was put off by something, you know? I just had a bad feeling about it. Now that's confirmed and I've saved some time yay! Fantastic reviews!
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    • Oh Jess, it just makes me so sad because dystopians used to be good, until every man and his dog started releasing one with the same tropes. I\’m so glad you\’re checking out Searching for Sky, it had a really interesting concept behind it! Fair enough Jess, have to trust your instinct when it comes to books!

  12. LilysBookBlog

    I've been wanting to read both of these for sometime but there sounding pretty bland to be honest. I was skeptical about both but now, reading your reviews I don't think either are for me.

    Not a huge fan of what everyone's saying about the MC's characterization in After the End and the romance in The Murder Complex is a definite NO. Hopefully your next reads are more enjoyable Jeann!
    My recent post One Past Midnight: Review

    • Luckily I read these at the end of 2014, I\’ve only read 1 book so far this year which was Deadline and it was awesome 😀 Thanks Carmel!

  13. literateture

    HAHAH I totally feel you in The Murder Complex, I was so excited to read it then it was ruined when I got to chapter 5. I realised that I could not finish this book-it was so boring and the author writes super short chapters, I don't get why she does that. Is she writing a diary or a book? It was such a let down…even the twist was not enough to impress me. I just skimmed the whole thing with my face looking like -____-

    • I didn\’t mind the short chapters too much because it helped me get through the book faster, but yeah there were some pretty damn confusing parts in it.

  14. Sunny @ A Sunny Spot

    Hmm a dystopian and contemporary blend, interesting! It sounds quite different but I'm not sure if it would be for me. I've seen a lot of The Murder Complex despite never actually hearing what anyone thought. But insta love and sic-fi doesn't sound like my kinda read. Thanks for sharing!
    My recent post REVIEW: The Unbecoming of Mara Dyer

    • Yeah, these days I can see some pretty far fetched ideas for dystopian novels, and these ones just didn\’t deliver and The Murder Complex was confusing. No problems Sunny!

  15. karawrites15

    Honestly I feel like dystopia / science fiction are a bit hit-and-miss these days! I haven't read either of these books, and I'm not sure that I really want to, too. I wasn't impressed AT ALL with Amy Plum's DIE FOR ME series, though I am a little curious about The Murder Complex. I've heard some people say it's brilliant . . . and seen other reviews more like this. xD Lovely reviews!
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    • I totally agree, it\’s just a shame because it is one of my most loved genres, but not really too much anymore. Interesting about her Die For Me series, I think I\’ve got some of them on my shelf. Thanks Kara!

  16. Bec

    I am intrigued by the paranormal aspect of After the End but am scared off but the fact she adjusts to civilization too quickly (WHY) and the many negative reviews I've seen. It's conflicting.

    As for the Murder Compex, I don't think I can deal with that romance, no matter how interesting the world. Is it too much to ask for dystopian with no romance?! (Oh wait, I got that in an super badass anime called Psycho Pass I'm obsessed with)
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  17. Um, okay, how about NO to the Murder Complex?! I didn't realise it had a bit of a Reboot flair so when I started reading that bit I thought, "Ohh, goodie. I need this." BUT NO NO to weird romance and ripping off other books and, ergh. This just makes me very displeased. *sigh* I actually think my library bought it and I have it on reserve. So I might still read it, but I'll have SO low expectations.
    I'm not too keen on The World's End either, unfortunately. *sigh*
    So sad these were mediocre books for you, Jeann. HOPE YOUR NEXT READS ARE BETTER!
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