by Marie Lu
Publication Date: September 2017
Bang Bang Rating:
Set in the not so distant future, Emika is a bounty hunter of illegal gambling in the virtual world and must secure a $5000 bounty before she gets evicted. Missing out on the bounty, Emika decides to steal a rare power up in the Warcross tournament and upon doing so she accidentally glitches herself in the game. The inventor of the game, Hideo Tanaka, sees Emika’s glitch and hires her as a bounty hunter to catch a hacker.
In this world, everyone is obsessed with this VR game and plays constantly to advance levels and win power ups. I say the not so distant future because it references Harry Potter and Fashion Week but the scooters are motorized, the workforce is dominated by robots, and everything is done virtually including storing memories. In Tokyo, which is where most of novel is set, everyone’s levels are visible above their heads and people receive points for doing daily tasks. Clearly this is a cautionary tale and a world I do not want to live in.
Our main character Emika Chen has been an orphan since eleven and is quite tech savvy and confident which makes her a pretty good protagonist. She’s the voice of the reader by asking all the right questions and even though she’s one of the smartest people in the room, she’s incredibly dumb. She knows how to hack, break firewalls, and any of all the other hacky verbiage yet she doesn’t take her own precautions like hackproof shields around her personal info or making sure no one is following her. She talks to Hideo in her room but doesn’t check to see if someone bugged it first. I’m not sure if this is a character flaw or a writing flaw but I’m leaning toward the latter.
Hideo is a 21 year old billionaire (a Mark Zuckerberg type character) and he’s mysterious and seemingly keeps to himself but he lets Emika in rather quickly. It’s a sweet romance but a bit too quick especially since he doesn’t seem to date often. I wouldn’t call it instalove but I thought it was going to be more of a Kaz/Inej type situation.
My only other problem is spoilerish so I won’t go into detail but I will say that the ending wasn’t as OMG as Lu’s other books. Click here to see my spoiler edition.
I’m not a fan of Cyberpunk, although I really liked Ready, Player One. If you are not a fan, I would still recommend Warcross because it’s more about catching the hacker and less about the virtual world.
Overall, I liked Warcross for it’s themes and I think it’s a great discussion book for teens. It had a diverse cast that I wish we got to know better and I thought the main characters, Emika and Hideo, were solid.