Also by this author: Warcross
Series: Warcross #2
Published by G.P. Putnam's Sons Books for Young Readers on September 18, 2018
Genres: Young Adult Fiction, Science Fiction
Also in this series: Warcross
Marie Lu’s Warcross was one of my favorite reads from 2017. It was an action-packed, thrill ride and I adored the main character Emika Chen and her Warcross teammates, the Phoenix Riders. Emika’s overall badassery, the brilliant worldbuilding that took us inside the world of the Warcross Games, and the comradery that develops between Emika and the Phoenix Riders, really made Warcross an exciting and entertaining read for me. It also had a killer ending that left me anxious to get my hands on the next novel in the series, Wildcard.
I always find it hard to review books that are part of a series. I want to share so much but also don’t want to spoil anything for readers who haven’t started the series yet, so here’s a general list of what worked and what didn’t work for me as I was reading Wildcard.
- Emika Chen is still all kinds of awesome. It seems like everyone she encounters in Wildcard is trying to use her for some purpose or another, but she remains determined to do what she thinks is right, no matter what. I really admired her strength and that fierce determination.
- Wildcard is a much different read than Warcross. Where Warcross is mostly about the excitement of the Warcross games and having us get to know Emika and Hideo, Wildcard makes a much more emotional punch as it takes us deeper into Hideo’s character and explores the heartbreaking backstory of Hideo’s younger brother, who was kidnapped and hasn’t been seen since. Hideo has been searching for his brother for years and we can see firsthand in Wildcard how the search for his brother has shaped Hideo’s every move. I really liked the added depth that the history of Hideo and his brother gave to the overall story.
- I don’t want to say too much about him, but I think Zero was actually the most fascinating part of Wildcard for me. In many ways he steals the spotlight from Emika at times, but his whole story was so interesting that I honestly didn’t mind that one bit.
- I also really liked the direction that Marie Lu took with Emika and Hideo’s relationship. If you were shipping them in the first book, I think you’ll be pleased, and I actually think even if you weren’t, you’ll be more into the complexities of their relationship this time around.
- I did have some issues with the pacing of the novel. I remember breezing through Warcross in a day or two, but Wildcard took me almost a whole week. Most of it went by fairly quickly but there were a few times when I found myself skimming because it felt like the story was dragging.
- Even though I liked that this book was a different read and that it went way beyond just playing Warcross, I have to say I really missed the actual playing of the game, the practice sessions, and all of those things that made the first book so much fun.
- Since the Phoenix Riders team was one of my favorite things about the first book, I wanted them to have a much bigger presence in this novel than they ended up having.
- This will probably end up being just a “me” thing, but the ending seemed a little off. It’s hard to describe but I got to what I thought was the end, but then turned the page and it kept going. Then I thought it was over a second time, turned the page, and there was still another chapter. I was starting to wonder if it was ever going to end, lol.
Wildcard is a more intense read than Warcross in a lot of ways. The stakes are definitely higher in this second installment since it moves beyond the idea of a bunch of teams trying to win a video game tournament. Some of the differences worked for me, and some of them didn’t quite work, but even with the issues I had with Wildcard, I still think it’s a very worthy follow-up to Warcross.
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?