WARCROSS | Marie Lu
Hardcover: 368 pages
Publisher: G.P. Putnam’s Sons Books for Young Readers
Publication Date: September 12, 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…more”
Warcross, oh Warcross. What am I to do with you?? Did I like it? Yes! Of course. Did I love it? Honestly, I don’t think I did?
First let me just say, Emika Chen. Could I have asked for a more capable, independent, and badass cyberpunk female protagonist? I don’t think so. She’s got rainbow hair, tattoos, a skateboard, and some serious hacking skills. I mean *guffaws*
Her backstory is solidly built. Orphaned and in need of some cash, Emika takes a chance that sends her on a plane to Tokyo to meet her idol Hideo Tanaka, the young and brilliant creator of Warcross Games. As the perfect candidate to catch a fellow hacker, Emika embarks on a risky mission that is designed to save Warcross and its creator. Or is it?
Marie Lu creates an enchantingly high-tech world that runs wild with color and images beyond imagination. This futuristic version of our world is steeped in video-gaming culture that functions effortlessly through advanced technology that remains accessible to many persons. A boy in a wheelchair acting as the fully capable and reliable leader to a successful gaming team is the type of world Marie Lu has built. What more can I say? You can always count on Lu to represent multiple, diverse communities and to lean heavily into intersectionality: POC, LGBTQ+, mentally and the physically disabled persons, and so many more will always have a place in Marie Lu’s stories it seems.
As for the story itself, I have to admit that it took me a while to get into. The beginning is slower paced, but this is mostly due to Lu’s focus on world-building and developing Emika’s backstory. Even though the story is written well, I was a bit bored all the way up until the first tournament, AFTER Emika is transported to Tokyo. For me, that’s when things get really interesting.
In between tournament matches, I wanted more interaction between Emi and her team. The bonds were not fully developed and most of the supporting characters, with the exception to one or two, were not all that relatable and lacked revealing personalities. The only character that truly flourishes in his/her role is Emika. Which is fine by me. I LOVE Emi.
While Hideo was intriguingly enigmatic and magnetically attractive, he was also wooden and kind of flat as a character. He didn’t have much dialogue and his interactions with Emika, while electric, were few and far between. I really wanted more from Hideo, more personality and more motivation, to really be able to connect with him as a character. But despite all that, I am 100000% shipping him and Emika. I don’t care about anything else other than their potentially badass relationship, honestly.
The action was surprisingly occasional and the events that took place between the tournament sections were not all that exciting or thrilling. However, the plot twist elevated the book and the ending was so unexpected that I am desperate to see what happens next.
This was a really good book and even though it wasn’t perfect, I’m completely invested in the upcoming sequel. I can’t wait to see how it all plays out!