Author: Marie Lu
Series: Warcross #1
Genre: Young Adult, Sci-fi, Fantasy
Published: September 12th 2017 by G.P. Putnam’s Sons Books for Young Readers
Rating: 4/5 stars ★★★★
“What’s the point of freedom if you’re just living in a miserable reality?”
From #1 New York Times bestselling author Marie Lu – when a game called Warcross takes the world by storm, one girl hacks her way into its dangerous depths. For the millions who log in every day, Warcross isn’t just a game – it’s a way of life. Struggling to make ends meet, teenage hacker Emika Chen works as a bounty hunter, tracking down players who bet on the game illegally. When Emika hacks into the game illegally, she’s convinced she’ll be arrested, and is shocked when 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. In this sci-fi thriller, #1 New York Times bestselling author Marie Lu conjures an immersive, exhilarating world where choosing who to trust may be the biggest gamble of all.
4 of 5 stars to Warcross by Marie Lu
Warcross is arguably Marie Lu’s most captivating creation yet. Set in a vivid world dominated by ultra advanced technology, expect the battles to be just as exciting as your favorite virtual computer games. Fast paced, super cool and over-all kick-ass book!
(WARNING: Review below contains SPOILERS)
While reading Warcross, one thing stood out to me the most and that is how it felt so exciting, entirely different from my experience reading the Legend trilogy. Looking at it now, Legend’s beginning was rather flat, boring if I want to be brutal, and only picked up in pace midway. Warcross, on the other hand, was constantly intriguing, the battles exciting and what little romance it had was actually cute (with a side of plot twist thrown towards the end).
The story has so many things working in its favor. First, it’s set in an already vivid city of Tokyo so the atmosphere always felt alive. Bright lights, colorful outfits, unique culture, most advanced technology—it’s the perfect place to set a technology-focused story.
Second, it features a virtual game not entirely alien to us at the moment, making the writer’s vision not hard to picture. Warcross (I mean the actual game not the book itself) is your typical computer game only years advanced in a way that there are more controls, more challenges and where you can also completely immerse yourself in as if you’re in that world, like the virtual reality we have now only more interactive. Think Assasin’s Creed in the way they execute attacks or defenses but in groups with one mission (steal the rival team’s gem) and interchanging landscapes every time you clear a level. There are also power ups to aid players which are pretty self-explanatory. It’s an entirely new world on its own co-existing with the reality. You’ll get a clearer picture once you read the book.
Third, as the game itself involves battles and Emika Chen works as a bounty hunter-slash-hacker, there is almost always constant action to keep you hungry for more. It’s never boring.
Fourth and last, the characters are all interesting with well-developed nuances in their personalities.
Let’s talk about Emika Chen first. Emika is hands down, kick-ass. From her colorful hair to her dangerous job as a bounty hunter, she’s every one’s dream bad girl but one with a good heart. She’s smart, resourceful, brave but most importantly, she stands by her principles. I mention this last because it plays a significant weight towards her decision-making during a crucial time by the end of the book. I admire her for that.
Hideo Tanaka is the 22nd Century prince charming if there will ever be one. He’s incredibly bright, talented and cool as a cucumber. He’s the classic good old boy, never-do-wrong, heart set in the right place but…… went about his goals wrong. I hate that Marie Lu pulled this trope on me, one that I am particularly miffed about. You know that saying, once an immaculate white paper gets even the tiniest smudge, it’s not considered white anymore? Hideo is that white, immaculate paper but one wrong (although admittedly huge) error on his part, he is now painted unfavorably. Suddenly, all the good things he did were forgotten. Just like how that one smudge on an otherwise immaculate paper grabs your attention first and the rest of the clean area disregarded. Having said so, it’s such a novel experience to know about a potential villain first, actually liking him, and then the author pulls the rug under you. Smooth maneuver Miss Marie Lu!
“Zero,” the mysterious black cloaked hacker in the Warcross game. At first, he seemed eerie and I really wanted Emika to expose him and then defeat him but when Hideo revealed how he had a younger brother, I knew right then that Zero was that brother. Suddenly, I had doubts about his villainous ways. There’s obviously more to to him and the story and I was eager to know about it but I didn’t want him to be a potential love triangle! The author haven’t really started on this triangle thing but I know deep in my gut the brothers are going to be rivals in more ways than one. However, I have only myself to blame. Knowing how Miss Marie Lu likes to mess with her readers via her infamous love triangles, I should have known she would do this to me again. However, I have a feeling this particular triangle would rip my heart out in two. Back to that paper analogy, isn’t it ironic how different the consequences are for when a good person does something bad and a bad person does something good? I’ve already explained the first one using Hideo’s case and I’m using the second one for Zero because Zero is the opposite of Hideo. Zero has a black reputation. I was led to believe he was bad and he actually did bad things but towards the end, it was alluded that he may be doing a good deed for humanity. Suddenly (again with that), Zero may actually be redeemable. I just want to point out the unfairness between two scenarios. How are we easily forgiving with the likes of Zero (bad gone good) and so hard on people like Hideo (good with one bad mistake)? Shouldn’t we be giving them equal chances to do right by their mistakes?
On a different note, the minor characters are also worth talking about. They’re as kick-ass as Emika, if not more, and I like how they aren’t just mere decorations to the story and actually helped Emika in her mission towards the end. I wish they would have more parts in the coming books. It would be nice if they’d join Emika in her new quest because I truly enjoyed their rapport as a group.
Asher is the team’s leader, crippled in real life, but a dependable captain in the Warcross world. He’s understanding and never gave Emika too much flack for disobeying his orders. Hammie is sharp, a quick thinker and mover, she can easily kick Emika’s butt. I love her for that. Roshan is a gentleman, can be a great friend if Emika allows herself to have one. His relationship with Tremaine is intriguing. Tremaine is another interesting character we need to look out for in the coming installments because his participation in this one is quite small.
I conclusion, I highly recommend this book. It’s by far Marie Lu’s best. If you didn’t like her other series (Rose Society and Legend), still give this one a chance because it’s so different in all the good ways. It’s going to be hell waiting for the next installments which can take years.. I want to know what happens next!