Author: Marie Lu
Publisher: G.P. Putnam’s Sons Books for Young Readers
Series: Warcross, Book 1
Hardcover: 416 pages
Source: ALA Annual 2017
Summary: (taken from Goodreads)
From #1 New York Times bestselling author Marie Lu—when a game called Warcross takes the world by storm, one girl hacks her way into its dangerous depths.
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.
In this sci-fi thriller, #1 New York Times bestselling author Marie Lu conjures an immersive, exhilarating world where choosing who to trust may be the biggest gamble of all.
*We received a free copy of this book from the publisher at ALA Annual 2017. This is an honest review.*
Overall Rating: 5 out of 5
Alyssa was really excited about this book and when we had an opportunity to go to ALA she informed me it was our number one priority to get a copy. We waited in line for close to an hour. After all of this hype I decided to jump into it that night. I got through the first three chapters of the book and began to worry because while it was good it was not blowing me away. I took a quick break and launched back in and basically spent every spare moment reading it until I finished. Once it took off it did not slow down and I ended up loving it.
First of all, I absolutely love the main character Emika. I especially enjoy the fact that since she is a smart character she actually remains observant and skeptical throughout the story. It is nice that she does not become mysteriously naive while trying to figure out the mystery of the novel, which sounds silly to say but I feel like in books like this the main character usually overlooks blatantly suspicious behavior and that being absent was a welcome change. She has a lot of depth and is still flawed enough to be interesting and I never found myself being annoyed or bored by her.
I think the one thing I wish there was a little more of was more scenes inside the Warcross game proper. I thought that the first match was incredibly interesting and as someone who grew up really liking the simulation games in Ender’s Game (which Warcross somewhat reminded me of), I felt like this was kind of a missed opportunity. The whole way that virtual and enhanced reality functioned in the novel was also really cool and felt completely plausible.
Finally, I loved that this book took place in a universe where diverse characters existed and were just part of the fabric. Characters were a variety of races, sexual orientations, and able bodied and were all just treated as equal members of the society. I think that a really wonderful job was done with showing how the technology in some ways helped to influence this (by doing things like translating languages with the VR) and it just felt really nice to escape into a world where this was the case.
In conclusion, I loved this book and cannot wait (I know it’s gonna be a bit) for the sequel. I already have several students in mind I’m planning on recommending this book to and I think everyone should check it out.
As Andrew said, I was incredibly hyped for this novel — I love Marie Lu and when I heard the main character was a crazy smart hacker girl, it was a no-brainer. Absolutely, yes, I need this book. Luckily, even though I was super excited and really expecting it to be great, it didn’t let me down. This is a WONDERFUL book.
Warcross is about Emika, an impoverished bounty hunter/hacker who finds herself working for the billionaire creator of the augmented reality system everyone now uses. He’s worried about the security of his Warcross system, so he employs her to find the person responsible, and has a hefty prize reward for her as well. So, she joins a professional team that plays the game associated with the augmented reality system and has to try look like she’s good enough for the pro teams while also catching the person trying to hack into Warcross.
The beginning starts off a bit slow, but I liked that we were able to get a glimpse of Emika’s life and her personality before delving into the good stuff. I like that she’s smart and observant and isn’t one of those too-stupid-to-live characters that I had to groan about the whole time — she’s actually super smart and makes good choices based on her situation and the information she’s given, which is awesome. I also love her for her complexity; she clearly has a strict moral code and plays by her own rules for what is right and what is wrong, but is okay breaking rules to be able to help her and her roommate survive in a world that doesn’t give them any breaks, regardless of their financial situations and lack of opportunities.
The world Marie Lu created for this book is also fun; while it is futuristic, it doesn’t feel otherworldly. It’s basically the world we live in now if an augmented reality system became popular and feasible for everyone to be involved in. I also like how realistic the world is in that the augmented reality has solved a lot of problems for people, yet created unintentional problems. For example, Emika is able to speak with people from other countries because the translation system in the augmented reality technology is incredibly accurate, so languages are no longer a barrier to communication. Also, one of the professional Warcross members in Emika’s group is in a wheelchair, and because he’s able to walk in the Warcross game, that’s no longer a barrier for him to be able to be a leader in a somewhat physically-centered game. However, on the other hand, there’s a whole underworld system created under Warcross that has illegal betting, people putting out hits on others, etc. So, while this fixed a lot of problems, like anything else, there are problems and issues surrounding it as well.
Overall, this story is a page-turner. It’s fast-paced and like Emika, I was constantly second-guessing her observations and my theories as I went through the story. It has some nice bits of romance too, but they don’t overpower the main plot line. Now, it does have a bit of a cliffhanger, so if you don’t like those, maybe wait until the sequel comes out to get started on this series. But I definitely recommend this for YA fans, science fiction fans, fans of good stories, Marie Lu fans, etc. Just read it. It’s entertaining, interesting, well-written, and has a great main character. I’m already dying to read the sequel.