Series: Warcross #1
Published by G.P. Putnam’s Sons Books for Young Readers on September 12, 2017
Genres: Fiction, Young Adult, Action & Adventure
For the millions who log in every day, Warcross isn’t just a game—it’s a way of life.
The obsession started ten years ago and its fan base now spans the globe, some eager to escape from reality and others hoping to make a profit. Struggling to make ends meet, teenage hacker Emika Chen works as a bounty hunter, tracking down Warcross players who bet on the game illegally. But the bounty hunting world is a competitive one, and survival has not been easy. To make some quick cash, Emika takes a risk and hacks into the opening game of the international Warcross Championships—only to accidentally glitch herself into the action and become an overnight sensation.
Convinced she’s going to be arrested, Emika is shocked when instead she gets a call from the game’s creator, the elusive young billionaire Hideo Tanaka, with an irresistible offer. He needs a spy on the inside of this year’s tournament in order to uncover a security problem . . . and he wants Emika for the job. With no time to lose, Emika’s whisked off to Tokyo and thrust into a world of fame and fortune that she’s only dreamed of. But soon her investigation uncovers a sinister plot, with major consequences for the entire Warcross empire.
One of the things that excites me most when I think about the future is the advancements that can (and likely will) be made in the world of virtual reality. It’s what I loved about Ernest Cline’s Ready Player One, and it’s one of the most intriguing aspects of Marie Lu’s Warcross.
I love that I was immediately immersed into Emika’s world of hacking and virtual reality gaming. And as her world expanded into the dark underbelly of the NeuroLink, I found myself craving a set of the glasses, and later the contact lenses, that allow Emika and the rest of the world to carve out their own virtual realities, yet still blend them all into one. The way Lu crafts her world is creative, but also familiar enough to the technology we have now to make it feel incredibly familiar and also possible.
I think when you have a plot that revolves so heavily on technology, you have to go all in. And Lu does that, describing not only the world inside the NeuroLink, but how it affects the real world around the characters, like floating billboards in the sky and cars and airplanes that change the view for the passengers carrying them. (Not to mention cute little robots that memorize your favorite things!) I can imagine the world while II’m reading, and that’s something super important to me when it comes to being able to enjoy a book.
As far as the characters go, I fell in love with the Phoenix Riders (Emika’s Warcross team), and the way they interact with one another throughout the book. I will admit, there are times where I felt the relationships are a little forced, mainly at the points I also feel like the plot itself is a little rushed, but overall I enjoy the characters interactions with one another. Especially towards the end of Warcross. I want to share my full feelings on Hideo and his relationship with Emika as well, but I’m holding off until I read the sequel for fear of giving away too many spoilers. But I will say I probably wouldn’t have been able to resist the young, billionaire, gaming genius either.
The mystery in Warcross was also something I really enjoyed while reading this book. While some of the “twists” aren’t’t very surprising at the end, I feel others are and I’m pleased with the amount that caught me off guard. And Zero, Emika’s mysterious troublemaker, is an intriguing character that I can’t wait to find out more about in the next book. (Spoilers, I suppose, that Zero will be in the second book.)
All in all, I’d recommend this book in a heartbeat, and may I say thank goodness for Amazon Prime and two-day delivery. The sequel, Wildcard, will be in my hands tomorrow for me to dig into.
On a side note, WOW I’m rusty at this reviewing thing. Stick with me, and I promise they’ll get a little better than this. I just have to break out the WD-40 for my reviewing gears, I suppose. Until next time!