Warcross by Marie Lu
“Some people still say Warcross is just a stupid game. Others say it’s a revolution. But for me and millions of others, it’s the only foolproof way to forget our troubles.”
A virtual reality world surrounding a game that has captivated millions of users around the world. Bounty hunter and hacker Emika Chen is recruited by the creator to stop Zero, a user who has infiltrated the system, and his nefarious plans to disrupt the world championship. Emi finds herself engrossed in more than a simple chase of cat and mouse.
My initial expectation going into Warcross was that it would be similar to Ready Player One. Now, while there were some similarities they just weren’t enough for me to compare the two realistically. The story itself is actually quite different. The primary focus is not about winning the game, it’s about finding the villain and uncovering their plans.
“A tingle runs through me at the chance to crack this problem, possibly the biggest puzzle I’ve ever been given the chance to solve. I’m going to win this time.”
The pacing of the book was really well done by not having any long stretches ongoing scenes of gaming, romance, etc. It was broken up so that you get a nice dose of action mixed with a dash of swoony moments that actually helped drive the story. One of my only problems was when the romance tears through Tokyo zero to sixy (HAHA, if you’ve read it you know the significance to that pun). We go from first date status to here’s all my secrets that I don’t tell anyone, p.s. meet my parents. Now while I understand the necessity of needing the reason for these secrets to be exposed in the story, I didn’t appreciate how abruptly it was done.
The World Building
One of the things I loved was that this wasn’t overly futuristic and overly submersed into virtual reality. I don’t think it’s any secret that I love Japan and Japanese culture so having that as an underlying factor was just bonus points for me. I also appreciated that the addition of Warcross outside of the game to everyday life was more of an overlay to real life rather than an obsessive second life and world altogether. It seemed to act more as an enhancement to life rather than a replacement thereof. My favorite aspect of the world building was the subtle salutes to geekdom in general, such as this shout out to the legendary Leeroy Jenkins (see link if you aren’t WoW geek enough to know the reference).
“…Leeroy something – actually got drafted into the Stormchasers, even though he always just charged in…”
My lease favorite part was that it was hard for me to understand and visualize the game. At first I thought it would be some epic digital version of capture the flag, but it turned out to be more like a capture the
glowing orb artifact floating over the carrier’s head. Each player had a specific role, but they ended up interchanging them. I was sorely disappointed at the “architects” role. I anticipated it to be more like Ellen Paige’s roll in Inception where she can alter the worlds, but all Emika had that was different from the others was some dynamite and a rope. Big whoop. In team games like this it’s important to have specific roles yes, but I thought the aspect was lost just a little bit.
Emi- What a great protagonist. This is a girl who came from nothing, but didn’t quite rub it in your face all the time, basically saying woe is me, and neither did she go crazy once she did have all her money. She just tucked it away like a good little squirrel. I thought it was weird that she skateboarded everywhere though, I mean, you’re in Tokyo, take train or bus…Also, we get it, you’r hair is rainbow colored.
Hideo-sort of a bland romantic interest. The only things this guy had going for him was his good look and mysteriousness. But hooray for an Asian love interest! Also, before you call people, put some clothes on, just saying. You are asking to be be ogled at if you invite someone to video chat you while you’re getting dressed, have some class.
Zero-In what little interaction we get to have with Zero, he’s got me more intrigued than Hideo. I await to see how your character develops a little bit more in the future.