Book Reviews

“The Murder Complex”

I had the privilege to interview the wonderful Lindsay Cummings, author of “The Murder Complex” and “Balance Keepers”.

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Lindsay Cummings, an author at HarperCollins Publishers, always loved writing, but it wasn’t until she fell sick that she rediscovered her passion. Her two novels, “The Murder Complex” and “Balance Keepers”, will be coming in 2014 and are highly anticipated by avid readers.

Cummings had been an athlete and a dreamer. One of her aspirations was to go to college for vocal and jazz, but her plans took a sharp turn once she graduated from high school in 2009.

Cummings was diagnosed with Chronic Fatigue, a complicated disorder that drained every ounce of energy she withheld. “When I graduated from high school, in 2009, I got really sick. I had several surgeries, and doctors couldn’t figure out how to fix it. It ended up being bad Chronic Fatigue, which basically means I’m exhausted all the time.” Said Cummings.

“I just felt so pathetic,” Cummings said. “I felt like I hated God and life. I felt like I was dead.” Her sickness became so severe that her boyfriend, now husband, told her that he loved her but did not like her anymore.

“Before I got sick, I was a very impatient person. I prayed for God to teach me patience…and Chronic Fatigue came along just a few weeks later. At first, I was really upset. I was angry at God, because as humans, we sometimes forget that He is always in control.” Cummings said.

This sickness destroyed all the dreams and preconceived plans she had for her future, and she felt as if she no longer served a purpose. “I couldn’t do anything; I was nauseous all

the time. I was dizzy. There were days when I did not get out of bed,” Cummings said.

She was bitter towards herself and no longer felt compelled to keep moving forward.

After a surgery one day she picked up her dad’s old journal and read an entry he had written back when he lost both of his legs at the age of nineteen. She was inspired by her father’s positivity despite his circumstances. He thanked God for putting him in that situation, which hit home for Cummings.

She expressed her struggles to her father after she realized he went through the same feeling of tragedy. He asked her, “Why don’t you write and read? That’s something you’ve always liked doing.”

Cummings took his advice to heart and started reading constantly. She couldn’t get around entirely well, so she learned to enjoy mentally escaping into a fantasy world that she could only imagine in the form of literature. “Little by little all these all these stories and books were lifting me up until I felt like I could stand again on my own two feet,” Cummings said.

Cummings became inspired to write her own thrillers after she finished reading The “Hunger Games” and “Divergent”. “Dang, I want to write a book like these with my own dark twist,” Cummings said to herself as she delved into the popular young adult series.

The idea for her first novel developed after reading an online article. “I read an online article about a town that was under attack by a mass murderer. I thought, “How could I turn that into a futuristic novel? I knew I wanted to create a main character that took the situation she was in and made the best of it, and found a way to survive. I’ve always loved survival stories, and I really wanted to create my own!”

It was once she put pen to paper that she began to develop a world of her own. “I started writing and I couldn’t stop.” Cummings said, “I made up an idea of this world that was caged in and it lived off of fear, death, and destruction. I put my own feelings and my own depression and anger into that book, and then it became “The Murder Complex”. It became a career and a new dream.” She said. “I ended up leaning on my stories so much, that I knew it was the only thing I wanted to do.”

She based her characters off of herself and the people around her. “Meadow and Zephyr are me and my husband. How they look, how they think, everything they do…we’re identical! I should point out that I don’t go around killing people. And neither does my husband.” She said.

Cummings now has a contract with HarperCollins Publishing Company, where she is currently thriving. Her first two books, “The Murder Complex” and “The Balance Keepers” will be coming out in 2014. “THE MURDER COMPLEX is super action-packed, fast paced, and full of darkness. But in the darkness, there are bits and pieces of light, and I really focus on the importance of being fearless! THE BALANCE KEEPERS is a really fun series, lots of action scenes and fun magical creatures and alternate worlds. Both series are polar opposites, and that’s why I love them so much!” Cummings said, “My books aren’t Christian books, but there are lots of Christian themes running throughout.”

Cummings has a passion for writing young adult novels, specifically. “I write young adult because it’s freaking awesome. When you’re a teen, everything is a huge deal. No offense, adult novelists, but, I don’t want to write about paying taxes and raising children and what new dish cleaning soap was on the shelves at the grocery store that day. I want to write about hot guys, fierce girls with weapons, and people beating each other up.”

Without the challenges she faced, she may have never uncovered her true love for writing. Teens are eager to read her young adult novel, “The Murder Complex”, set in a world where the death rate is higher than the birth rate. “The Murder Complex” is placed in a dystopian future, which has become a popular theme in young adult literature. Fans also look forward to her middle grade novel, “Balance Keeper”. Her novels are expected to be as big as “The Hunger Games”, and fans cannot wait to get their hands on a copy.

“The Fault in Our Stars”

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John Green’s bestseller “The Fault in Our Stars” follows the lives of two teenagers fighting to stay alive. Hazel Grace Lancaster, a teenager with Thyroid Cancer, tells her story in a sarcastic, witty tone. Her humor and depth draws in the reader.

Since the age of 13 Hazel has been battling Thyroid cancer, but thanks to a new drug, Phalanxifor, the disease had been sterilized for the moment. The book takes place when Hazel is 16, and now has stage four cancer. Under the persuasion of her mother, Hazel agrees to go to a support group where she meets the one legged Augusts Waters.

The two hit it off after trading their favorite books, which draws them together. Hazel’s favorite book, “An Imperial Affliction”, is about a young girl with cancer. The book ends in the middle of a sentence, and August and Hazel are determined to find out what happened in the end. “That’s part of what I like about the book in some ways. It portrays death truthfully. You die in the middle of your life, in the middle of a sentence.” Says Hazel.

Augustus, who had cancer, decides to take dying Hazel on a trip to Amsterdam where the author of her favorite book lives. There they reveal secrets and express thoughts about life and death. Augustus uses his one Wish, a cancer kid perk, as he would say, to take Hazel there. The trip is tragic and beautiful all at the same time, ripping the readers’ emotions to shreds.

John Green did a good deal of writing “The Fault in Our Stars” in Amsterdam, which allows the readers to see and hear the city. This story is beautifully written and provides a clear image of what it’s like to be young and dying.

The inspiration for “The Fault in Our Stars” came along while Green and his brother were at a Harry Potter Conference. Esther Grace Earl, who had Thyroid cancer, sat in the back of the room, and was soon joined by John Green. When becoming friends with Green, she had sparked the inspiration he needed to write this book. Esther soon became the Hazel Grace of “The Fault in Our Stars”.

The teens struggle with the thoughts of abandoning their families if they die, and life after death. “I wanted to know that he would be okay if I died. I wanted to not be a grenade, to not be a malevolent force in the lives of people I loved.” Says Hazel. “I’m a grenade and at some point I’m going to blow up and I would like to minimize the casualties, okay?”

The two question what it means to be on earth and knowing their purpose. They ask the powerful question of how long their lives will last. This story, and soon to be movie, is compelling and will stay with readers forever.

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“Divergent”

The young adult bestseller Divergent by Veronica Roth has taken readers captive by its intriguing story line and characters.

The adaptation of this popular Young Adult novel is coming out March 21, has several rising to fame stars. Shailene Woodley has taken up the role as Tris, the beloved heroine. Since this movie, Woodley has been cast for other movies like “The Fault in Our Stars.”

The story follows 16-year-old Tris, who had abandoned her life in one faction to take on a new one. In this dystopian society, there are five factions in which a person decides to live in: Abnegation, Condor, Erudite, Dauntless, and Amity.

Each teenager has to pass a test, which will show him or her his or her fate. Tris’s results are inconclusive, leaving her confused on which faction she should choose. Being Divergent is dangerous, and that forces her to hide in the most unsuspected place.

Having always lived in Abnegation, Tris takes a risk leaving her family to live with the Dauntless, a group of hot headed, tattooed, gun-loving teenagers. There she meets her love interest, Four, also known as Tobias. The two connect over the fact that they have both transferred over from Abnegation.

Divergents throw off the system of peace in the society. The leader of Erudite, Jeanine Matthews, is determined to shut them down. Throughout the first book, we watch as Tris struggles against the obstacles of being Divergent and being alone. Divergent is the fist book in this action packed trilogy.

“It was beautifully shot—Chicago is such a gorgeous city, and to see it transformed into this futuristic wasteland was incredibly cool—and suspenseful, and the cast did a wonderful job.” says Veronica Roth, author of Divergent.

“All of my films have been different from each other,” said Neil Burger, director of Divergent. “And I kind of like that. I’m always interested in figuring out how to stylistically serve the story as much as possible. There are certainly things that I’m not suitable for and wouldn’t be able to figure out how to do. But I saw something in Divergent that I thought would be a new set of challenges.”

Since this book is so popular with teens, it will take a skilled film team to live up to the high expectations. The movie trailers excite viewers from all around. Divergent is sure to be a huge hit.

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