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Monday, July 15, 2019

Wildcard by Marie Lu

Wildcard by Marie Lu

Book Stats:  

Reading level: Young Adult
Genre: Science Fiction
Hardcover: 341 pages
Publisher: G. P. Putnam's Sons Books for Young Readers
Release date: September 18, 2018

Series:  Warcross #2

Source: Library

Reviewed by: Kara

Order: Amazon | Book Depository

Emika Chen barely made it out of the Warcross Championships alive. Now that she knows the truth behind Hideo's new NeuroLink algorithm, she can no longer trust the one person she's always looked up to, who she once thought was on her side.

Determined to put a stop to Hideo's grim plans, Emika and the Phoenix Riders band together, only to find a new threat lurking on the neon-lit streets of Tokyo. Someone's put a bounty on Emika's head, and her sole chance for survival lies with Zero and the Blackcoats, his ruthless crew. But Emika soon learns that Zero isn't all that he seems--and his protection comes at a price.

Caught in a web of betrayal, with the future of free will at risk, just how far will Emika go to take down the man she loves?

Emika Chen seems to be caught in the middle of a high-stakes match, one where she could pay her life as a price. Rather than repudiate Hideo for the revelations in the last book, Emika makes a different choice. Instead, she tries to understand the human emotions and motives behind Hideo and Zero, discovering a much bigger plot than she ever dreamed. Wildcard kept me on the edge of my seat in anticipation! Where the first novel was building the idea of the game of Warcross and Emika was discovering her team, her mission, and an entire new "arena" of players, this next novel went past the game and contemplated hard questions of morality, choice, freedom, and society's system of punishment. This had less worldbuilding and gamification of the first book and covered more exploration of the characters.

Emika, who had been very used to depending only on herself for most of her life besides her father and maybe her roommate, had become part of a team even if she was mostly working on her own. However, her choices and their effects come to pay a price on her team and they push Emika to open up, to trust them. Here, she finally has a chance to show them whether she does or not -- with the revelation of her "kidnapping", Hideo's plans for the Neurolink, and her adoption into the gang. Emika also has to question her feelings for Hideo. Do they change now that she knows his plans? Does she question his motives? For instance, does Hideo not realize the consequences of his actions? The effect he has had on the populace? The choice of life that he's taken away from people? Emika has to weigh who holds the real power? Is it Hideo? Is it Zero? Is it someone else? It's a new question of Machiavellian power--do the ends (Hideo's algorithm saving everyone from bad choices) justify the means (controlling them and taking away their capability of freedom)?

There are a lot of answered questions and strings wrapped up satisfyingly, like the identity of Zero and what happened with his kidnapping. I like that this goes deeper into questions of humanity and actions, but also contains a lot of twists I never saw coming. We get more Hammie, who I love for some reason, and more Tremaine and Roshan (I loved this subplot btw.)...

Without sharing any spoilers, the one thing I'm still not sure I followed well was the, er, villain of the series and the motives behind it and the hidden dots that Emika puts together. Maybe I just didn't anticipate things well, but I think there should have been a little more stitching together. Who knows? Maybe I just need a re-read! I will say that my husband is reading this series right now on audiobook, and it kept him engaged over 8 hours of driving so much that he grabbed his earbuds and is now reading this second book. It's incredibly engaging and I recommend to anyone who enjoys videogaming or who liked Martha Wells' recent Murderbot series or Ready Player One. Can't wait to see what series Marie Lu embarks upon next! What did you all think?

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.

7 People left their mark' :

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