Monday, August 13, 2018

WARCROSS (Warcross #1) by Marie Lu

This book was provided to me by the publisher in exchange for an honest review. This in no way shaped or forms my opinions of the novel. Thank you Penguin Random House for the opportunity.

AUTHOR: Marie Lu -- Website | Twitter
PUBLISHED: September 12, 2017 by G.P. Putnam 's Sons (Penguin Random House)
GENRE: Young Adult Sci-Fi
PAGES: 366
Find it on Goodreads

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. 

Let me start this out by saying, especially to Marie Lu herself and any publishing associates who come across this: I finished Warcross in less than a day and I have been in pursuit of a Wildcard ARC since BEA and ALA, which I was supposed to be at but had to bail on because my cancer relapsed and instead, I've spent the summer reading. I am DESPERATE for an ARC. Does someone at Penguin Random House want their bathroom tile cleaned with a toothbrush? I'm your girl if it means getting Wildcard. I have NEVER in my five years of blogging begged for an ARC, but depending on my health, I may have to enter the hospital for a month and I there's a good chance I could miss the release. So I really, really, truly want an ARC so bad. 

So now you know, I LOVED Warcross. I loved it SO MUCH more than I thought I would. I'm a girl gamer, but I've never been involved in games that involved a lot of battle or live opponents/teammates through online games. I'm a Pokemon and Mario kind of girl. But this still fascinated me and within the first five pages I was hooked and simply could not put it down. Let me talk about a few points in general that I thought were really, truly exceptional.

Marie is fantastic at world-building. And in Emika's case, she had to build a world of grief, because it's all Emika's known for a very long time. Her mother left for no apparent reason when she was young, so it was just her and her dad, an artist, until he passed away. She has sold off many of her possessions to make ends meet in a crappy apartment and she is still wracked with grief. Marie creates this portion of the story so well and depicts grief thoughtfully and authentically in a way anyone could relate to.

The world building throughout the rest of the novel is phenomenal, too. I can see the characters and the environment and for a video game she had to imagine and then create a world that contains it is just so impressive.

At one point a quote is used -- and this is from the ARC edition, so it may have changed, but I thought it was so beautiful and true now:

"Everyone in the world is connected in someway to everyone else."

I just thought that that was so honest. And in today's world, a lot of people forget that we, as humans, are linked all together, too. But we are focusing on what's separating us instead of what connects us, especially here in the U.S. We've become less human and value those connections less. The only bonds that seem to be treasured are the ones that offer something to someone else. And the very bonds that humanity is supposed to treasure are flicked aside for someone or something else, and very often involving hate.

One thing I love about this is being inside Emika's mind and seeing how she thinks and analyzes. She's so brilliant! But like many brilliant people, her social skills leave a little to be desired.

If you're worried about SPOILERS they start here ... 

So, I really wanted to like Hideo and Emika as a ship, but I felt like the whole thing was kind of a way of manipulating her. Hideo is the kind of person who thinks so many steps ahead and I feel like his trying to stoke the fires of this bond is that he is in someway victorious at the end.

One thing I wish this book had -- and maybe the print versions do -- is a map.

I speculated -- and was right -- that Hideo's brother was still alive and very possibly Zero. And after all the major twists involving Hideo at the end, I really wanted to see what was next for Emika. And I loved that she ended up settling down with her teammates. But what is the next step for her? She has some choices and offers on the table.

A couple little quirky things:

*Wikki -- I think it's really interesting that a robot is named Wikki, when Wikis are so prevalent today. It's kind of what my English used to call a characternym, where the character's name something about him/her.

*I also kind of pictured Wikki as a taller Wall-E.

*On page 132, I put a Post-it in giant letters that said "My mom and brother HAVE TO READ THIS."

Which is why I once again say that I cannot wait for Wildcard.

So, I'm once again begging -- whoever reads this and has the ability to get me an ARC of Wildcard, please, please do. I couldn't love this book anymore, except maybe with the sequel to follow it up. 

I loved Warcross so much and I think it's an appealing read for a large demographic, both men and women, and is really just so well done. Make sure you get out and read Warcross before Wildcard hits the stands in September!


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