As best selling author Marie Lu’s new book approached its September release this year there was a staggering amount of ARC reviews. I can confidently say that I have never seen that many ARC’s released during my blogging career. Maybe what stood out was how positive every review was. Lu has been one of the most popular YA authors out there for some years now, the Legend series, and follow-up Young Elites trilogy are some of the most hyped YA dystopian fiction novels you will find. Also, with DC’s newly launched dabble into YA literature, Lu was signed on to write none other than Batman, with an anticipated January release. All these factors, including a release on my birth-week, lead me to pick up the new novel, Warcross.
Warcross was released Sept. 12 ‘017 and currently sits at #2 on the NY Times YA Bestseller list. Reception has been near perfect, boasting a 5/5 rating on Amazon and a 4.34 on Goodreads. What drew me most to this book was the connection many reviewers have made to Ready Player One by Ernest Cline (#4 on my list of all-time favourite books).
The story follows Emika Chen, a bounty hunter, living in a near future New York. The world has been taken by storm in recent years by a new immersive video game system, dominated by the game Warcross. As the annual professional Warcross tournament is set to begin, Emika mistakenly places herself in the middle of the event. Afterwards, she is approached by the games creator, Hideo Tanaka, to help him stop a hacker/terrorist group from pulling off their plans of ending Warcross. Emika is immersed into the world of professional gaming, and the dark net as she tries to unravel the mystery of Hideo’s enemies.
First off, I feel I need to tackle the comparisons of Warcross to Ready Player One. Just, no. The only comparison I can see is that they both involve a highly popularized video game. The stories are very different, featuring different plots, sub-plots, and genres. And while the OASIS of R.P.O. is a place I dream of going, I find Warcross kind of confusing. The system itself seems to be used for advertising and tracking mostly, while the game has a serious lack of rules involved. It is like capture the flag, but players can essentially change the rules at any time. It is a team sport where some team members are unnecessary to the game itself. And, with the manner the game is laid out, it would seem these events would not last very long, depending on whatever random setting they are placed.
With my attitude towards the game itself out there, I should say that it was fun. One chapter featuring an event on a snowy mountain was one of the most enjoyable reads I’ve had in a long time. The action was portrayed well, the setting was creative, and it captivated my imagination. The only problem was, there wasn’t enough. Out of the entire book, only two chapters featured the game itself. And, after my favourite chapter things got real slow and romancy for a while. I understand this is a general tool used to slow things down between acts and add depth to the overall plot, but, it had an effect of pulling me out of the story.
Emika was an awesome, lovable character. I enjoyed how her competence was sky high, but there was an awkwardness when dealing with real life situations and people. The book had many great characters that I wish I got more from, but as the book began to climax many of them seemed to have just disappeared. Hideo was well developed, I had an easy time visualizing him, unfortunately that also put his character arc on the predictable side.
As a final thought, this book seemed too orientated as a series and as a stand alone much of the story was not developed enough. I was disappointed by the abrupt finish, and as I mentioned, many of the great characters vanished without a complete arc. There is a general feeling I received in most aspects of the story that it was uncompleted.
I guess I focused on some negative things in this review. I feel like these perspectives are important to share as this book is enjoying its hype and it is easy to get caught up in it. However, despite the faults, overall I enjoyed the read. It was easy to take in and there was some entertaining moments. As for my recommendation, it’s hard to say, I feel like there are too many unanswered questions and it may be better to wait until more of this series is released. I give Warcross a 3.5/5, I enjoyed the ride, but I needed so much more out of it.
Thanks booknerds, I have a sudden urge to go play some video games.