Warcross by Marie Lu

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4 stars

The game Warcross has consumed billions of lives. A global sensation, this high-tech virtual reality game lets people all around the world interact and compete.

Emika Chen works as a bounty hunter in order to make ends meet by looking for cheating participants. She hacks into the opening game of the international Warcross Championships, and instead of quietly snatching a power-up, somehow glitches herself into the action.

Although she thinks she’ll be arrested for trying to cheat, she instead becomes an international sensation and meets her idol–child prodigy and game creator, Hideo Tanaka–who invites her to act as his spy. Hideo believes there’s a sinister plot and one of the Warcross Championship participants is the mole.

Here’s the official summary:

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.

This was a fun, action-packed novel that starts us off in a brand new, futuristic Marie Lu world.

Warcross is filled with lots of action and fast-paced scenes that suck you into the novel and leave you hanging on a cliffhanger. Just as it appears, Warcross is a plot based novel and centers around the adventures of bounty hunter, orphan, NYC street rat, Emika Chen.

There’s not a dull moment with adventures to find the spy, competing in the games, and working on some undercover hacking to keep us busy. Add on the romantic subplots and bam! It’s everything we need to make a high-action YA novel to keep readers busy.

The plot twists are all justified, and I got hints of what would happen. Lu is great at creating plots that fit well together, and Warcross did a good job of setting up another book that won’t be the same plot recycled again (like how Catching Fire is the Hunger Games recycled).

I thought Warcross was an enjoyable read. It was very easy to read, the prose was kept simpler than other Lu novels as this seemed to focus a lot more on the action. I would have liked something deeper, but the sinister plot & dark web satisfied my evil cravings.

The concept however, lost some of its appeal partway through because there was just so much action. I like a balance of character & plot. If there’s too much character, it’s boring. But if there’s too much plot, it becomes superficial.

I found myself not connecting very well with Emika. Her flaws were miniscule, unlike Lu’s other protagonist, Adelina who is the definition of anti-hero. Emika is cool, bad-ass, and has crazy street smarts and hacking skills, but not very complex.

She’s like one of those women in videogames where they’re all tech-ed up to appeal to male fantasies, just less well-endowed (as far as I know). Emika is cool, but I couldn’t connect well with her.

Her background with her father (who I’m sure will become of import in the future) was one of the only things adding dimension to her character.

Because of this, the romance wasn’t very strong for me. I didn’t connect well, and Hideo and Emika’s relationship was very one-sided. Why did Hideo continue to want to see her? Some of the motivations behind the relationship are still unknown to me.

Despite my reservations with the characters, Lu does a great job setting up the world & building this more futuristic Earth.

It’s something very realistic and something that I could see happening in the next 10, 20, 50 years. Virtual reality is a growing field, and better quality virtual reality simulators will eventually get out and become more widespread. Warcross is something that could definitely happen in the future.

Even so, Lu adds her own world-specific details, like how in Tokyo, you can get points for doing anything from shopping to cooking to watering a plant.

The diversity in this novel is also very prominent as Emika is Asian (as well as Hideo) and many side characters are POC. This is a strong point and something that’s wonderful to see in YA literature.

I was highly anticipating this release (I’m the first one to use this library copy!) so I was somewhat disappointed at how it fell flat. I still intend to read the other novels in the series, but Warcross was not as good as Marie Lu’s Young Elite series, in my opinion. I would recommend Warcross to anyone looking for a high-concept, fast-paced novel that will keep you on the edge of your seat.

much love, vicky

Have you read Warcross? What did you think of the novel?

3 thoughts on “Warcross by Marie Lu

    1. It was definitely very thrilling! I definitely would have enjoyed it a little more if I hadn’t been reading as many fast-paced books recently, but it was a great read!

      Liked by 1 person

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