Series: Warcross #1
on September 12th 2017
Genres: Science Fiction, Young Adult Fiction
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Prior to Warcross, I had never read anything by Marie Lu before so I wasn’t sure what to expect going in. Reading the synopsis and seeing that it involved virtual reality, I thought and hoped it would be similar to Ernest Cline’s Ready Player One, which is a book I really enjoyed. I’m thrilled to say that Warcross was even better than I hoped it would be and that it was actually even better than Ready Player One. Warcross has absolutely everything I love in a book – a wicked smart, kickass heroine, an engaging action-packed plot, intriguing secondary characters, and truly some of the most phenomenal world building I’ve ever read. This may have been my first experience reading Marie Lu, but it will most definitely not be my last!
So, what is Warcross anyway? It’s a virtual reality combat game that has taken the world by storm. Literally millions of people play Warcross every single day because they just can’t get enough of it. It has become such a phenomenon that there are even televised International Warcross Games, kind of like the Olympics, where players from around the world come to Tokyo to compete against one another. Hideo Tanaka, who created the game when he was just 13 years old, has already achieved billionaire status because the game has been so successful.
Warcross also attracts its fair share of criminals who seek to illegally exploit different aspects of the game for profit. Emika Chen, the main character in the novel, actually works as a bounty hunter in New York City. Her job is to locate and apprehend Warcross criminals. Unfortunately for Emika, the bounty hunter business has become so competitive that she’s having trouble making ends meet and is facing eviction when we first meet her. Emika is also a talented hacker and decides to hide from her problems for a while by trying to hack into the opening ceremony for this year’s International Warcross Games. She successfully manages to hack her way into the ceremony, but instead of remaining hidden as she intended, a glitch makes her visible to everyone at the games as well as to everyone who is watching the ceremony on television.
Expecting to be arrested at any moment for hacking into the game, Emika is surprised when, instead, she receives a job offer from none other than Hideo Tanaka himself. He is so impressed by her hacking skills that he wants to hire her to work as a spy throughout the International Warcross Games because he believes there is someone out there planning to disrupt the games and so he needs eyes everywhere to discover any security flaws in the game. Emika idolizes Hideo Tanaka because of all that he has already accomplished in his young life (not to mention the fact that he’s also super cute!) and agrees to take the job and packs for Tokyo. As soon as she arrives Emika is entered into the competition as a wildcard so that she can freely move around in the game and look for signs of trouble. Emika’s investigation uncovers a sinister plot, one that is much more damaging than just disrupting the game, one that has major consequences for the entire Warcross empire. Can Emika stop those who are plotting against Hideo and Warcross, or is she in way over her head and in possible danger?
As I’ve already mentioned, Warcross features a major kickass heroine in Emika Chen, and I really adored everything about her. She’s an orphan who struggles every day to make ends meet, which has made her incredibly resourceful and also gives her that underdog quality that immediately had me in her corner cheering her on and wanting her to succeed. I also think it’s fabulous that not only is she a hacker, but she’s also a brilliant one, which is what gets her noticed and subsequently hired by Hideo Tanako. I also enjoyed watching Emika grow and evolve throughout the story. Ever since her dad died, she has been on her own and, as a result, is pretty much a loner. She’s used to doing things alone and not relying on or working with others. When Hideo places her on one of the Warcross teams, she really has to get used to the idea of working together and being a part of a team.
Speaking of teams, I thought Emika’s teammates were great as well. We don’t necessarily get to know too much about them since Emika is just part of their team as a cover, but it’s fun to watch them work together and strategize as they train for their Warcross matches and as they live together under the same roof while the games are going on. They’re just awesome secondary characters, kind of like Friends but with a bunch of gamers. They’re such a likeable bunch that I think they make all of the gaming scenes entertaining even if you’re not really into gaming.
As I’ve already mentioned, the worldbuilding in this novel is just incredible. Marie Lu has created this amazing virtual reality landscape that, on the one hand, seems completely futuristic out of this world, but yet from a technological standpoint, somehow still well within the realm of possibility of being something we could see in our lifetimes. I loved the layers of virtual reality that could be superimposed over every day ordinary cities, turning them into something extraordinary. When you’re connected to Hideo’s invention, the Neurolink, everything is brighter, more intense, and almost other worldly. That is, unless you use it to visit the underbelly of Warcross society, yet another brilliant layer that Marie Lu has added to her world.
The amazing worldbuilding also extends to the game of Warcross itself. The attention to detail that Marie Lu puts into this game is truly incredible, especially when it comes to the landscapes of each arena, as well as the power ups, and the different moves that players are able to make in order to achieve their objectives. The game was so well thought out and so exciting that by the time I finished reading the book, I wanted to play Warcross!
I also love an action-packed, fast-paced read and Warcross was a pure adrenaline rush for me. From the opening scenes when Emika is whizzing around the city on her hoverboard trying to apprehend a criminal, to the wild and exciting matches within the Warcross tournament, to following Emika as she tries to stop those who are plotting against Hideo, I felt like I was on the edge of my seat the entire time. It was a heck of a ride, filled with plenty of plot twists, including a jaw dropping one at the very end that had me practically screaming for the next book in the series!
There’s also a romance in Warcross, and guess what? I didn’t hate it! It flowed well with the rest of the story, the characters involved have very believable chemistry, and I also especially enjoyed the way they used the virtual reality technology to communicate so as to keep their relationship private.
I love it when I have nothing to put in this section! J
If you like smart, badass heroines, Warcross is definitely a book you should read. I highly recommend it to fans of science fiction and gaming, but I also think it’s such a great book that readers would enjoy it even if they’re not usually into either of those. Warcross is probably one of the most hyped books of 2017 and it most definitely lives up to the hype. Go read it!
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.