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Complex
A.D. Enderly, author

“In this epic debut dystopian novel, a teenager fights to rescue her abducted younger sister from the ever increasing perils of a futuristic megacity…A thoroughly absorbing science fiction tale with a motley cast.” – Kirkus Reviews

The sky rains red, the poor are forgotten, governments have failed, and corporations have grown into mini nation-states called Complexes, where people flock to receive the security, shelter, and purpose the outside world can’t provide. The only payment required, buried somewhere in the twenty-thousand-page Terms of Service, is their freedom.

Now just sign on the dotted line…

Orphaned after her father’s death, 18-year-old Val’s focus is to protect her younger sister Kat and heed her father’s final wishes: Never, ever join a Complex. Stay away from them, at all costs, he demands.

But staying away becomes impossible when Kat is abducted, sparking a hunt through a violent megacity primed for revolution, where Val eventually discovers her sister’s disappearance is just a smokescreen. Beneath it lies a motive darker than death and broader in scope than a few lives.

As Val and her allies uncover the truth, they’re confronted with a terrible choice – save Kat, or save humanity?

“Enderly’s science fiction series opener moves at an impressive pace…the delightfully head-spinning denouement will surely have readers hankering for another installment.” – Kirkus Reviews

Reviews
Enderly’s first installment in his Complex series is a carefully crafted adventure in a dystopian hellscape. The future world has two types of governments: Legacies (shells of former democracies) and Complexes (police-nation-states run by corporations, whose contracts bind users in lifelong agreements in return for basic human necessities). After their father’s untimely death, teenage Legacy citizen Val and her younger sister Kat are ekeing out a meager living in a poverty-stricken area. When Kat is abducted, Val joins forces with a group of scrappy renegades desperate to improve their situation through rebellion, and they claw their way through a Complex megacity to rescue Kat. And, in trying to unravel that mystery, they stumble on a much larger-scale threat.

Enderly’s dystopian world is gritty and cruel. Although life would be easier joining a Complex, Val refuses to, following the advice of her deceased father; the theme of fighting for survival is illuminated through Val’s encounters with the brutality of both the Legacy and Complex systems. In a 700-page book, the expository focus on the corporate evils of the Complexes can be somewhat overlong, and a multiplicity of viewpoint characters may make some readers feel disconnected from the action.

But Enderly’s faceless corporations and social scoring system are dystopian sci-fi classics that will resonate with fans of the genre, and Val’s steely determination in the face of overwhelming odds makes her a likeable heroine. Enderly does a remarkable job of weaving together his many threads and characters, and there is broad appeal in this detailed futuristic world. Readers will want to see where this story is going.

Takeaway: Readers who enjoy gritty science fiction will find much to love about Enderly’s grim, multilayered portrait of the future.

Great for fans of: Philip K. Dick’s A Scanner Darkly, Marie Lu’s Legend trilogy

Production grades
Cover: A
Design and typography: A
Illustrations: N/A
Editing: B+
Marketing copy: B+

Kirkus Reviews

In this debut dystopian novel, a teenager fights to rescue her abducted younger sister from the ever increasing perils of a futuristic megacity. Val Merina has been raising Kat, now 12, since their dad’s death two years ago. They’re on the dole and live in an apartment that Legacy, the “ailing government,” provides. Impoverished citizens’ only other option is to subscribe to (aka live and work in) company-owned Complex properties in the tiered megacity Arc. But subscribers are merely thankless servants save for the richest citizens residing at the top on level 7. After someone suddenly kidnaps Kat, Val gets no help from the police force ArcSec, as she’s out of its jurisdiction. Luckily, she finds an ally in 18-year-old Trevor, who skirts Legacy’s rarely enforced laws. While finding Kat is the objective, Val and Trevor soon question why exactly the girl was a target. Meanwhile, chaos in Arc looms, as the new PASS directive promises to keep people with low social scores out of the wealthier districts. Around the same time, Legacy Administrators pass the DS75 bill, which cuts subsidies for housing by 75%. Angry citizens ultimately gather in Arc—a potential riot that a virus and a possible epidemic exacerbate. Considering its epic length (nearly 700 pages), Enderly’s SF series opener moves at an impressive pace, in part due to regularly shifting narrative perspectives. These include such memorable characters as Val, Trevor, ArcSec Chief Riku Ogunwe, and the mysterious Ray, whose menacing job, among other things, is scaring people into becoming Complex subscribers. Despite a frenzied and twisty final act, the author skillfully manages numerous characters while violence, though potent, is not a frequent occurrence. Quite a few individual fates are left unknown by the end, which, along with the delightfully head-spinning denouement, will surely have readers hankering for another installment. A thoroughly absorbing SF tale with a motley cast.

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