Friday, February 16, 2018

Review: Warcross by Marie Lu

Title: Warcross
Series: Warcross #1 
Author: Marie Lu
Publisher: G.P. Putnam's Sons Books for Young Readers 
Publication Date: September 12, 2017
Format: Hardcover 

Page Count: 368


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. (taken from

"I'm a bounty hunter. And if my bounty's still out there somewhere, I have to finish this."

Even though I wasn't totally interested in the premise of this book, I knew I simply had to read it after reading 23423 stellar reviews praising its originality and worldbuilding. So, I picked it up (after months of procrastination) and finally decided to see what all of the fuss was about.

Now, having sped through all 350+ pages in practically one sitting, I'm a little confused. Did I read the same book as everyone else? Because Warcross was definitely entertaining, but certainly not the 5-star, knock-your-socks-off story I was expecting. I know, I'm as sad about my verdict as you probably are.

Let's start with what I did like:

Emika's world is certainly a fun one. She's got rainbow hair that complements her futuristic, bedazzled world quite well, and her hacker/boarder girl attitude is likable. The game of Warcross is an intriguing concept, and I really enjoyed getting to learn more about the rules of the competitions and the players who competed. The descriptions of futuristic technology were probably the most interesting part of the entire story, which kinda says something, but whatever.

Additionally, Marie Lu's writing style is one that's simple to appreciate. Even though I wasn't loving this book, I flew through chapter after chapter with ease. Something about her way with words just kept me going until I'd turned the last page.

Now, let's talk about the problems I had with this book, of which there are several.

I'm not really sure how anyone can refer to this premise as truly original. A virtual reality game where people are competing on teams to win glory and fame? It's like Ready Player One, The Hunger Games, and The Sims had a baby. We don't actually see much of the championship battles, but we sure do hear a lot about the "cool" features of the game and the celebrities it creates. Overall, I was fairly unimpressed with the worldbuilding and wished Lu had taken it to the next level (haha no pun intended).

As for the characters.... Meh? The love interest made me stick out my tongue and grimace, not because he was such a dislikable character, but because their relationship and trust is built on almost nothing and therefore wasn't believable in the least. I was excited to see bonds form between Emika and her fellow teammates, but unfortunately, Emi is too preoccupied with Hideo and his assignment to really get to know them, which means we miss out, as well. So, in all, I really didn't see much development in any of the characters, and I kind of wonder if I'll even remember their names a few days from now.

The plot is fast-paced and worth reading, but I definitely had a few issues with it, namely its predictability and lack of real thrill. Spoiler in white text: I mean come on, a brother who goes missing and a mysterious bad guy with no name? Lu practically told us who Zero was halfway through the book.

All in all, Warcross was a fun ride, and one I'd probably recommend to lovers of science fiction. However, I was understandably let down after reading so many raving reviews and then finding several big problems with it. My final verdict: a worthwhile read, but not anywhere close to an all-time favorite.

I really wanted to love this one, but I could only kind of like it. Oh well.