Review: Warcross by Marie Lu

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Genre: Young-Adult, Science-Fiction
Pages: 368
Series: Warcross #1
Release Date: September 12, 2017
Publisher: Penguin

Star

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One of my most anticipated reads. It’s written by Marie Lu, who I love, and has a very Ready Player One vibe that I’m digging; minus the bazillion 80s references, most of which I didn’t get because I was born in the 90s in Asia. Basically, it seemed to me like a will-surely-love book and it was.

It’s set in an alternate reality (or maybe the future) in which a majority of the populations spends its time on a virtual reality game called Warcross. The protagonist is Emika Chen. She’s eighteen and has lived on her own ever since her father died and left her with gambling debts to pay off. She’s barely making ends meet with her waitressing job and, on the side, is a bounty hunter who tracks down those who bet on the game illegally. In an attempt to make some quick cash, Emika uses a hack during the opening game of that year’s Warcross tournament being held in Tokyo, only to accidentally glitch herself into the game.

Emika is then flown to Tokyo. But instead of punishment, Emika gets a job locating someone who seems to be messing with the game. She’s entered into the tournament and works undercover. Emika is very determined, but so is her culprit. And soon, things start to become more and more dangerous than a simple game.

The anonymous guy she’s trying to find goes by Zero. He has an agenda but she can’t figure out what that is. She also has to focus on winning the tournament for her team, which consists of four other people. I really liked those people. They were great additions to the novel and came as a surprise because I kinda expected them to just be background people. But they were important and I am totally shipping Roshan with someone (not Emi) and excited to see how that will work out.

Emika was awesome. She’s smart, strong-willed, makes good decisions and refuses to back down. She got a few shocks in this novel and the ending has faced her with a dilemma and, while I’m nervous about she’ll do, I’m also confident that whatever it is, will be right. That’s why I love her.

One characters I haven’t yet mentioned, Hideo. He’s the creator of Warcross and also the love interest (ever since I read The Love Interest that phrase doesn’t sound the same). I don’t wanna say much about him. He’s a reserved guy for reasons we will find out. He comes off as stand-offish at first but grows on you later on. He was all mysterious and a really good character. Also eager to see more of him.

The story was fantastic and had a fast, exciting pace. I loved reading about the tournament and the games; and the world-building was so interesting. Marie Lu really knows how to immerse you in the world. And while it seems like Ready Player One at first, it’s actually quite different. The tone is different and, again, no 80s pop culture references. I was totally in from page one, getting to know Emika and the game. Things were consistently great, no drops in momentum.

I have one complaint. It’s about Zero’s identity. I kinda guessed it early on and that was a bummer. It didn’t take away much from the novel but I can’t ignore it.

Overall, things were swell. I haven’t read this good and refreshing a YA novel in a while. And since I’ve barely been reading thanks to my reading slump, this was new and also like coming home. It made me really happy and I highly recommend it.

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