YO, IT’S WARCROSS IN THE HOUSE!! Hahhhahaaa! My first Marie Lu book! About a hacker, gamer, bounty hunter!! That cover is a lot to live up to… did I like it?! Come see…
by Marie Lu
Published September 12th 2017
by G.P. Putnam’s Sons Books for Young Readers
Warcross is the 3D game millions in the world play everyday… Emika is the bounty hunter who catches the petty white collar criminals spawned by the game with her major hacking skills… Hideo is the young millionaire inventor who Emika dreams of working with… When desperation causes her to take a foolish risk, instead of heading to jail, she heads to the capital of tech, Tokyo!
The title suits the book as it speaks to the world as well as the conflicts Emika goes through… Warcross is the name of the game inside the book that has become a world wide sensation. You put on glasses that the company provides and it transports you to thousands of other worlds where you and a team of players battle against another team for artifacts. It’s basically a cross between a brawling game of Quidditch and a complex strategy of football!
The cover totally drew me in… I am SO a lover of COLOR and it gives you more hints as to the contents than you might think! I’ve never read a Marie Lu book so I was excited to get a copy of Warcross.
Tokyo as a setting is super cool alone but the WAY it was described as this mega-center for the Warcross glasses technology MADE IT STAND OUT! The story hits full gear here…
The world of Warcross felt very real yet made from the future! It will be VERY familiar to an avid sports fan or gamer. I think that there was a wonderful effort made to develop the sport of Warcross, the fandom surrounding it and the technology that made it possible…
This is when I really started to get a sense of the storyteller that Marie Lu is!! I really enjoyed the combination of the hacking world, the gaming world as well as the internet black market. And the game itself is nothing to sneeze at! It is as developed as Quidditch with each team member performing their specific role. It was quite believable when Emika stepped up at the architect.
I found that like Emika I was persuaded to fall for Hideo. His quiet reserve and the intense way about him are both characteristic of Asian men and it is quite compelling!! I found him the perfect foil for Emika’s impulsiveness and insistence on being different. I can see why he would be attracted to Emika and want to share with her. She felt the loss of her father quite keenly and it has become an integral part of her!
Besides just LOVING these two characters I really enjoyed their romance. It’s kind of like a work romance. Emika was already primed for it having crushed on him so long but it felt natural and particular to a hermit inventor and the hacker chick he hired. I was surprised after the info dump beginning that actual dialogue and meetings supported the romance!! These moments were some of my favorite and I could quote quite a few of them… I TOTALLY SHIP Hideo and Emika…
I can see that Marie Lu excels at team relationships. Even though we get very little screen/page time with Emika’s team I felt like I knew each one and I had fun when they were competing… Part of what is so wonderful is the DIVERSITY! Emika is Chinese-American, Hideo is Japanese, Asher is wheelchair bound, and Roshan and Tremaine are gay. Wikki the little robot servant whose pleasure it was to learn everyone’s favorite foods and drinks was super adorable too!! Hammie and Ren while not special on the minority front were excellently characterized too.
The setup was rough for me. I liked Emika but I wondered why she was PUKING her life story all over me… There didn’t seem to be a cause for this except that its a book and she a character. This sort of info dumping character exposition is terribly annoying to me! It made me worried that I would HATE the book… (NOOOOOOO!!!)
Oddly this exposition setup was mainly at the very beginning and I got the sense that she couldn’t settle on a scene to show and link all the things about Emika that she wanted known to the reader. While the bounty hunting scene which is the first event of the book is weak it was also intriguing! Without all the info dumping about her life I quite liked how Emika handled events and her attitude was quite a bit better! Also the way events were written was quite exciting.
Still the premise is BRILLIANT! Plus it is executed quite well even thought the plot was rather loose until Emika got to Tokyo but is REALLY amped up there and I enjoyed it from that moment on. The twist ending was quite good! You may see part of it coming but others you won’t even guess at… The reasoning behind motivations were not the best…? I think they were there but the explanations themselves were not very clear.
Why 4 stars?
Well as I’ve been saying the prose is quite rough. It’s heavy on exposition (basically the character puking her life on me) plus the description is DENSE (amazingly not heavy! which means it was well executed) but there was just a LOT of it. It left little space for ACTUAL EVENTS and INTERACTION. So while I was enjoying the story now that we got away from that beginning the writing was keeping me back from ADORING it.
The plot itself was also not always stable. Threads were introduced in the beginning that really had nothing to do with anything. (Making them contrived if she is such a brilliant hacker!) I wish the beginning were tighter so we could read more interactions in training or as a team. While I found the storytelling quite good it didn’t overcome the prose problems.
As a Reader…
Since I don’t like half stars I rated this 4 stars but as you can see I’m not totally happy with that number… The story was engaging once we got to Tokyo and Hideo. I enjoyed Warcross and the tech savvy world it occupied. The hacking was fun as was the romance. The team dynamics worked well (just deserved more page time!) And the DIVERSITY! I am TOTALLY on board reading the second half of this story… I know how I WANT it to end… but will Marie Lu play ball…? We’ll have to wait on tenterhooks to find out!
Hackers! Gaming! Bounty Hunting! Technology! Inventors! Teamwork! Asian Protagonists! Future World! Diversity! Twists!
As a writer I feel like there can be perfect prose… To me that means a balance between exposition, description, persuasive and narrative functions. My tastes though run toward being lighter on exposition and description with more persuasive and narrative writing. That’s the thing… one reader can love and adore one kind of prose that may read heavy and clunky to another!
Marie Lu’s prose is totally her own writing style! While there can be problems with prose I feel like each writer has their OWN style… it may lean toward being ALL persuasive and exposition or it may run totally on narrative events! But it should never have cliche! While some aspects of Warcross may be obvious to some, I don’t feel like it’s because of a lack of originality!!
⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐ Premise & World Building
⋆ ⭐⭐⭐⭐ Development & Storycraft
⋆ ⋆ ⭐⭐⭐ Writing & Narrative
⋆ ⭐⭐⭐⭐ Plot & Pacing
⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐ Cover & Title
Sports gaming world worth going gaga over plus Asian leads to ship!
Thanks to Edelweiss and the publisher for providing me with an ARC in exchange for an honest review.