Warcross by Marie Lu
Warcross is a virtual reality game that has taken the world by storm. In the game, people can create avatars of themselves and become immersed into a virtual world. The game has many levels and some levels have power-ups or rewards. Others, are less interested in the game play itself and focus on the rewards-such as virtual pets, clothes, and other items.
Emika Chen is a bounty hunter living in the US. When she causes a glitch in the opening game of Warcross, she becomes an overnight sensation. Everyone knows her name and her rainbow hair. She’s jetted to Tokyo, the center of the Warcross games and home to its creator, Hideo Tanka. Hideo built the Warcross lenses people wear to immerse themselves into the game when he was just a teenager. He uses the human brain to build the perfect reality world by overlaying real-life places and objects with a virtual map.
Hideo notices Emika when she glitches into the game and instead of facing repercussions, invites her to join the Warcross tournament as a wildcard and help him snuff out another hacker. This hacker, Zero, is causing problems for Hideo and the game world of Warcross. It becomes a race against time as Emika discovers more about Warcross, Hideo personal life, and Zero’s plans.
Overall, the storyline of the book was interesting but I feel like it was rushed and that the romantic aspect was a little forced.
The first 2/3 of the book was a slow build up. We’re introduced to minimal characters, mainly the rest of Emika’s teammates and a few of her enemies. We’re also vaguely introduced to sites in Tokyo and I feel like having such a culturally diverse city as your backdrop leaves a lot of things to explore. But this fell short.
The relationship between Hideo and Emika makes me roll my eyes every time there is a scene with the two of them together. They are very different and it feels forced. Sure, both are a little brooding and determined, but that’s all the qualities they share. Hideo is not who he seems at face value. Emika is warned from the start not to pry into his personal life, but she does. It just feels like a kid pushing boundaries.
The true action comes in the final pages of the book as we realize what Zero’s plans were and what Hideo has been hiding from Emika. I won’t say that the entire storyline is predictable, but I figured out who Zero truly was very early on.
My advice while reading this book is to trust your gut instinct about the characters and to take time to digest this book a little. It can be a little dense at times—I found myself skimming quite a few passages because I felt bored too. This is not a book I could finish in one night because I would read maybe 30-45 minutes of it at a time. The premise is interesting, but virtual reality games are not rare in science fiction. Many have compared this book to Ready, Player One, which I have not read, so I’ll leave you to make your own assumptions.
If you’re interested in the plotline and have time to spare, I would suggest reading this book. Marie Lu is a fantastic author and I do enjoy her writing style. I was just left wanting a little more after finishing this book.