by Marie Lu
Published on September 12, 2017 by G.P. Putnam's Sons Books for Young Readers
Genres: Science Fiction, Young Adult
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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.
This book was provided by the publisher (via Edelweiss) for free in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.
I had a really hard time pinpointing exactly what I loved about this book because one minute I’m starting it and the next I’m finished and still trying to comprehend what just happened. For the record, this is all a good thing because this book is amazing and y’all need to get on it!
First, sci-fi is hit or miss for me and I’d classify this as science fiction. The world is hooked on virtual reality and the game Warcross. It’s taken over and whole cities are designed around this virtual world where anyone can be anything they want. This is the way the future world works. I think giving virtual reality such a strong hold on society really hit home for me because it’s a direction I can see us taking as a global community.
Then there’s Emika and Lu made bounty hunters even cooler with her. This rainbow-haired code genius does what she has to in order to keep on going after losing her father, which eventually leads to hunting down criminals using the cyber world. I love how we’re thrown right into the action and the way she narrates her story is much like I remember from Legend, that conversational tone that is the perfect balance of relaxed and enticing while also moving the story forward and not tangenting in all directions like you might expect from a stream of consciousness.
Not going to lie, one of the things that sold me on Emika’s character was that she referenced League of Legends. It made my gamer heart flutter a bit. But in sum, her character was beautifully executed. Each chapter unwrapped a new layer of Emika’s personality and motivations. I never felt she did anything that didn’t make sense for her. She’s strong, brave, loyal, and super smart. I know there really shouldn’t be “boys” and “girls” books but the reality is that some books do appeal to one over the other based on how they’re marketed and the characters they portray. But I think Lu really gave Emika such a breadth of facets that she is a protagonist that I want ALL readers to meet.
For the record, I hate seeing books labeled for one gender or another because it excludes a wide range of people and puts limitations on readers, but it does happen and I love finding books that I think can break those barriers.
Emika’s character wasn’t the only one done well. I loved meeting her team. Each secondary character wasn’t cast into a stereotypical role. They had their own quirks, motivations, flaws, and were real. Which is probably why the one plot twist caught me COMPLETELY by surprise. There were two big ones near the end, one of which I had guessed somewhat early on based on how I see young adult books play out usually. But the other one just blew me away. It was so well executed, the timing of the reveal at the perfect moment of high tension to shock the reader entirely.
I’m starting to ramble but I have to add in that this world is beautifully gorgeous and intricate without being overwhelming. We know just enough to move forward without confusion while being able to fill in the blanks on our own. As always, Lu’s writing is captivating and I don’t think I’ve ever read a book by her that I disliked.
Honestly, if I keep talking about this book it’s going to be all gush and that’s not very helpful so in short, you need this book. Like right now. Go order it, because I can’t think of a single reason why you would regret having this book on your shelf.