Warcross by Marie Lu
Date Published: September 12th, 2017
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.
Marie Lu was born in Beijing, China in none other than the year of 1984. Her given name is Xiwei. Although Lu moved the United States at age 5, her early life in China greatly influenced her work. Her mother lived through repression by the Chinese government during the Cultural Revolution. On a walk with her aunt, 5-year-old Lu witnessed tanks and soldiers preparing for what would become the Tiananmen Square massacre in 1989.
In 1989, Lu and her family moved to the United States, settling in Texas. She went to college at the University of Southern California, where she studied political science. Lu originally considered becoming a lawyer, but she ended up taking a job as an art director for a video game company.
Lu started writing as a young girl, and she wrote novels for 12 years before Legend, her first book accepted for publication, hit bookshelves in 2011.
Lu’s work stands out amongst a bevy of dystopian novels and series. An interesting coincidence is Lu’s birth year being the same as the title of George Orwell’s seminal novel 1984. With 1984 being a foundational pillar of the dystopian genre, one might imagine Lu’s prowess for writing dystopian stories was ordained.
If you fancy being transported into a fictional world within a fictional world, this book is for you. If you like a main character who can really show others who’s boss just by being her smart self, this book is for you. In fact, if you enjoy something as general as amazing, super descriptive and creative writing, then this book is most definitely for you.
Warcross was written for you, my dear fellow book lover, as it was made for me.
It follows Emika Chen – rainbow-colored-hair, all around super chick – around a futuristically situated world where a virtual reality game, the one-and-only famed “Warcross”, becomes more of a reality for some than real life actually is. She’s a bounty hunter, a hacker, and most importantly a teenager trying to make ends meet after her father dies with massive amounts of debt leftover to pay.
Warcross, to her, was a way of life. Without it she wouldn’t get paid and probably would be rotting away on a street corner.
That’s why when she accidentally glitches herself into the next Warcross championship, life as she knows it… will never be the same after Hideo Tanaka (aka Warcross creator, aka genius, aka most times annoying, aka predictable love interest but overall a puppy who cooks and takes care of his parents, also, he is a liar and that makes him real but so infuriating) calls her as a wildcard in the next games. She is suddenly thrown into a darker world, with the promise of the light at the end of the tunnel being just beyond her reach (10 million dollars which made me go on a mental rant because c’mon Hideo, why?! Just ’cause you’re rich doesn’t mean you can bribe people with money, geez).
I went into this book as blindly as you can get. Seriously, I didn’t even read the description. At first, I thought this would be a slightly-twisted version of Ready Player One because when it started mentioning glasses and virtual stuff I was all like… !!!. Turns out I wasn’t close. The two books touch on some similar technology but they cannot be compared in the slightest, story-wise. This is a YA, pure YA.
The thing I loved about this book was the immense detail Marie Lu used to describe the world. I have no knowledge whatsoever in coding and programming, even less with VR, but it made me want to understand Emika and the decisions she had to make throughout the story. This book was like a pure shot of adrenaline, all set in an alternate world where technology rules. Even though in reality, I’m not a huge fan of unnecessary tech but that’s beside the point. There are also lots of quotable quotes (??) in this book that I want to reuse.
The ending though!! I have to say that my senses have been honed down to a sharp point when it comes to guessing endings and plot twists (because I’ve read so much, in so many genres) but man… this ending caught me off guard.
Half-completely (hey I guessed Sasuke would make a comeback and he did, I just never imagined him ACTUALLY BEING ZERO and wanting to murder his brother).
**END OF SPOILER**
I don’t want to spoil anything else so I won’t say anything else about it. Just, wow. That ending.
Also, major cliffhanger so beware.
Anyways, this is great for when you’re in the mood of something not quite like any other books in YA but still want that teenager-y feel to the story. I found myself falling in love with the idea of the game, not so much with the characters (though Emika was pretty great, she just seemed to be conveniently placed throughout).
Also, be prepared to fangirl over the Phoenix Riders because they’re absolutely amazing and the diversity is insane.
I give this a whopping 5 stars because in all truth, I have yet to find a PERFECT book and I don’t want to give anything less than a 5 just because I haven’t been able to find one.
Great job you genius Marie Lu. Now give me the sequel, pretty please.
Scale – 1 = none, 2 = once or twice, 3 = neutral amount, 4 = at least once a chapter, 5 = an excessive amount
1 2 3 4 5
Age Range Recommendation:
As I have mentioned before, this is pure young adult. Nothing out of place occurs throughout the whole book that a teenager can’t handle.
Crude or Profane language:
1 2 3 4 5
Drug or Alcohol Content:
No drugs; only mention of them being sold in the “Dark World” (the black market inside the Neuro Link). One moment did occur when the team were about to play a shots game but Emika physically leaves before the scene progresses.
1 2 3 4 5
Some might argue that something between them could have happened once or twice but nothing ever did.
In fact, they stopped the relationship in general after she found out he wanted to control the minds of every Neuro Link user. Which is a good thing she did.
**END OF SPOILER**
Acceptable for a Christian to read?
Hmm, it’s okay to read this. There is no mention of God or of any religion only that technology is basically robbing humanity of its human side. They acknowledge that and the main character wants to help the world stop using it so much after the plot twist is revealed. Also, Emika goes to two parties (though only because it is a part of her mission as hunter to spy on her teammates) but I don’t remember her drinking or doing anything else, just plain working.
** I DO NOT OWN NOR AM AFFILIATED WITH ANY EXTERNAL SITES LISTED HERE **