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Thursday, January 04, 2018

Warcross by Marie Lu

Warcross by Marie Lu

Book Stats:  

Reading level: Young Adult
Genre: Science Fiction
Hardcover: 353 pages
Publisher: G. P. Putnam's Sons Books for Young Readers
Release date: September 12, 2017

Series:  Warcross, #1

Source: Library

Reviewed by: Kara

Order: Amazon | Book Depository

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.
If Marie Lu wrote it, I'll probably read it, so I've been waiting on this book for months, especially since it is a virtual reality gaming book. And look at this beautifully designed cover! I am blown away. It looks like a maze or block or symbolic for interlocking code.

Before I go further into the review of this book, I'll also say I recently completed Ready Player One by Ernest Cline, which you've probably heard about because the movie's coming out in 2018. (For years, I've also heard everyone rave about this book). For the sake of comparision, it is about young man who plays another virtual reality game called OASIS and goes on a scavenger hunt within it for the recently dead creator's "keys" to his vast fortune.

Right off the bat, it's hard to not draw similarities from Warcross to Ready Player OneWarcross might be about virtual reality, but it draws less off of games we have played before (unlike RPO, which mainly talks about games from the '80s) and creates its own world and game. The game part that is actually Warcross is complicated to explain. Warcross the game is rather like a version of ultimate capture the flag but "you" are a real player, and there is vast world-building and special abilities you can obtain in-game and trade. (Side note: when explaining this, I get an image of versions of old Halo games for capture the flag.)

Another difference is that Warcross virtual reality can be a lens through which you can interact and exist in the real world. Things are revealed in your surroundings as you go about your daily life, and Warcross points are awarded for doing things in life. (RPO has this too, but on a much smaller scale.) This is about where the similarities begin and end between the two books. If you're a big fan of RPO, sure, you might like this. If you hated RPO but are still interested in gaming books, it's different enough that you really might like it.

I really enjoyed the creativity of this book! The hardest thing to grasp for me though was the visual representation of the hacking. I'm a gamer too; I understand that there are limitations for describing video games in print. I think this is one thing that will divide readers. It's harder to relate to and see in your mind because the game and the representation of hacking within it are brand new.

Emika is an creative, determined, yet uniquely vulnerable heroine. She has no family because her father has died and her mother left them some time before. She is crawling with debt, mainly left from her father, and due to an infraction at school, is banned from computers for two years, unable to work at something she's actually gifted at: hacking. Instead, she is a bounty hunter within Warcross and her captures keep getting taken out from under her. Her luck, though, has finally run out and she's facing homelessness and extreme poverty until she performs a hack within the Warcross Championship game. This accidentally glitches her into the game where everyone can see her instead of her [null] hacked character. Emika is whisked off to Tokyo where she's facing multiple new experiences and challenges she's never encountered before. She's part of a team, which functions like a family of sorts, she's got a steady job with money though it's a secret, and she's romantically interested in Hideo Tanaka, the wealthy enigmatic creator of Warcross. Because of her loss and her self-reliance, she is a strong female character, but then, for such a strong female, you might be wondering why she falls so hard and so fast for Hideo, an insta-love situation. As a reader, I thought this was off-putting, but when you consider it, it still can be believable. Emika's rather a loner, having had few friends growing up and still fewer in her poor state, plus with the loss of her family. It doesn't change her strong character, but it does allow that she has areas with little experience and obvious vulnerability. No spoilers, but Emika does gain some perspective by the end of the book and grows emotionally.

Speaking of the ending, the twist at the end I guessed, but still very much enjoyed reading and understanding some character development. In the next book in the series, I would like to see Emika have more interaction with her teammates and have them grow to be more well-rounded characters. Not that they were flat, but they didn't have as much depth because Emika wasn't opening up to them. I thought they were intriguing side characters and want more! I'll be looking forward to reading the next installment and seeing what new exploits in virtual reality Marie Lu is able to dream up.

Favorite quotes:

"No one chose you," I snap.
"And have people been so great at choosing their leaders?" he snaps back.
"But you can't do that! You're taking away something that makes us fundamentally human!"
Hideo steps closer, "And what is it that makes us human, exactly? The choice to kill and rape? To war and bomb and destroy? To kidnap children? To gun down the innocent? Is that the part of humanity that shouldn't be taken away? Has democracy been able to stop any of this?"

Favorite Easter egg moment:
"Serene would be nice, Mr . . . Car."
"Fred," the car says.
"Fred," I reply, trying not to feel weird about talking to a bottle of champagne in an ice block. "Hi."
. . .
"I'm George," the bodyguard says as the car starts to drive us forward.

Kara is a teen librarian living in the southeastern US with her husband (who listens to books), young daughter (who sleeps with books), and dog (who tastes the books). She loves all sorts of books, but mostly YA, and will never catch up to all of the wonderful things to read.

4 People left their mark' :

  1. I'm really looking forward to reading this! I still haven't read Ready Player One (such a travesty) so both of them are on my priority TBR for this year. I am glad to hear that you thought Marie Lu kept it original enough even though it is so closely tied to RPO. That whole insta-love situation will definitely irritate me though. Insta-love is one of the few tropes I hate with a passion. Still, I'm looking forward to reading it. Lovely review, Kara!

    Laura @BlueEyeBooks

    1. Thanks, Laura! Before you keel over from the insta-love, just wait until you get to the end. Then bash it all you want. ;)

  2. I liked this one a lot. I'm looking forward to seeing her interact more with her team in the next one, and I thought the in- game sequences were as lot of fun. :) I'm not crazy about Hideo but we'll see what happens.

    Nice review!

    1. Thanks, Greg! I agree with you! More interactions with her team and more game time in the next!