Written by Marie Lu
Published by Penguin, September 14, 2017
My star rating: 4 stars
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 players who bet on the game illegally. But the bounty hunting world is a competitive one, and survival has not been easy. Needing 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. Find it on Goodreads
For some reason my brain is having a hard time putting it’s thoughts together on this book! There was just so much that happened and so much to take in! I think this will be one that takes me a while to process as I remember all the details.
First of all, the plot was intriguing and refreshing. A young girl with a tortured past and a criminal record turns to the life of a bounty hunter in order to support herself. After missing out on a bounty that could stop her from getting evicted, she’s desperate and finds an opportunity during the biggest Warcross gaming event. With millions of people watching in the VR world, she uses her hacking skills to go into the game and takes a rare power up worth a lot of money. Of course, this spirals into something that changed her life forever. I loved that the main character was a hacker! We got to follow her reason as she worked through coding problems (I have to be honest I wish we got more of this part though) and we even got to follow her into the dark underground part of this VR world. This part was so interesting! She did a great job in emphasizing the dangers of this underground society and the power it can hold if you know how to use it properly.
I felt that Marie Lu did a great job with balancing the sub plots the whole way through. Emika was drafted as a Wild Card into the games so her task was to be a competing team member, but she was also hired to be a spy and try to find the person responsible for sabotaging the games. Her job as a spy and as a team member had equal time and meshed well together. She was so conflicted as to what job should be at the forefront of her mind.
I love the whole VR world and the game itself. When something like this was created it was created with positivity in mind but there are always ways to manipulate it to assist darker means. The positive aspects were fantastic but when this information was used for a more sinister means the truth was absolutely terrifying!
The game itself sounds so simple. You have a team with 5 players each, all of which have a specific task, and the goal is to take the other teams “artifact” – just think flag football in a virtual reality world but way cooler – and less tackling. Each players job in the game was outlined for us so it was really easy to understand how the game works and what each players role was. I LOVED how important the team was and how important it was to stick together.
Emika was a really great character! She was strong but not too fierce. She was capable but not a show off. She was driven but also flawed. She was confident while still unsure. Basically, she was normal. I didn’t feel like we were following a super hero through the story – I felt like this could be anyone. But honestly, all the characters were well written! Every characters personality was so clear and it was easy to connect with them all – there were no small parts!
But where this book REALLY excelled was the world building! My goodness it was fantastic! The two main physical settings were New York and Japan, but each was so different due to the invention of these VR glasses. Then there was the Warcross game world AND the underground part of Warcross. I could picture literally everything so vividly in my mind. The colours, the setting, the lighting, and the general feel of it all. Yup, the world building was my favourite part!
Sadly, I called the ending. Not the persons motives exactly, but I called who it was that was behind it all. It didn’t take away from the story because the motives were far more complicated than I imagined.
I did have an issue with a few of Emika’s choices, and I wished that some things could have been elaborated on more (specifically the coding and hacker aspects), but, all in all, this was a very fast paced, exciting, descriptive read and I can’t wait to see more from this series!
Until next time, happy reading!