Published by G.P. Putnam’s Sons Books for Young Readers on September 12th 2017
Genres: Science Fiction, YA
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.
I saw Warcross years ago in a ad from our local bookstore. The rainbow colours drew me in, but it was the blurb that sold me on it. I’m a gamer and there aren’t enough books with games in them. There was also a time I wanted to get into esports, but my chronic pains blocked that path. My expectations (and wishes) were high, and I’m glad Marie Lu didn’t disappoint.
Emika Chen is a young hacker who’s invited into the official tournament after she’s hijacked the showcase match. I like her. She’s courageous, fierce, and willing to learn. She’s still young and a little naive sometimes. That’s okay, it only makes her more adorable. It’s clear she grows throughout the book. She makes mistakes and learns from them. As do the other characters. I’m not sure if all of them are as strong as they could’ve been, but it’s never got in the way of the storytelling.
The world Marie Lu created is vivid and dynamic. I could clearly see Times Square with it’s upgrades and the description of the Tokyo areas felt familiar. If this world was real, I’d want to live in Tokyo, and at the same time I’m slightly terrified our society is slowly heading into that direction. The basic tech for the gamification of our lives is already there. It won’t be long until they find a way to make this happen.
The ending didn’t surprise me much, but it’s still a good premise for Wildcard. I want to know what’s going to happen and who’s side Emika will pick. Plot twists don’t have to be unpredictable to be good. They have to throw the characters off their game (pun not intended, but I’m leaving it anyway), and sometimes that means the reader is too. But there is also that satisfaction of being right (‘I knew it! He’s the killer!’) that makes us feel smart.
I give Warcross five stars. I enjoyed it immensely and I would reread it sometime, probably before I start Wildcard, the second book in this duology. I’m adding Marie Lu’s other books to my TBR as well.