Review: Wildcard (Warcross #2) by Marie Lu

Title: Wildcard
Author: Marie Lu
Publisher/Year:  Penguin Publishing 9/18/18
Length:   290 Page
Series:  Warcross #2

Overview

Overview

Wildcard (Warcross Series #2) by Marie Lu

An Instant New York Times Bestseller!

Return to the immersive, action-packed world of Warcross in this thrilling sequel from #1 New York Timesbestselling author Marie Lu

Emika Chen barely made it out of the Warcross Championships alive. Now that she knows the truth behind Hideo’s new NeuroLink algorithm, she can no longer trust the one person she’s always looked up to, who she once thought was on her side.

Determined to put a stop to Hideo’s grim plans, Emika and the Phoenix Riders band together, only to find a new threat lurking on the neon-lit streets of Tokyo. Someone’s put a bounty on Emika’s head, and her sole chance for survival lies with Zero and the Blackcoats, his ruthless crew. But Emika soon learns that Zero isn’t all that he seems–and his protection comes at a price.

Caught in a web of betrayal, with the future of free will at risk, just how far will Emika go to take down the man she loves?

My Thoughts

OH MY GOODNESS.  that’s literally all i can say after reading this finale to the story.  I’ve always loved how Ms Lu has this ability to twist a story in so many unexpected directions, and this 2nd book of the Warcross saga does not disappoint.  It’s intense, it’s heated, you learn so many things that are completely unexpected and you want to hope for a happy ending.  yet you knwo that there’s no way that it can happen.

As you will recall, we were left at the point in the story when Em’s life was completely turned upside down just as everyone else in the worlds was too – once the new lenses that were shipped around the world for the NeuroLink synced everyone to Hideo’s system.  He used Em’s desire to make the world better and to be a good bounty hunter against her, and she played right into his hands.

Much of the world is now under the control of the link.  they are forced to be honest, forced out of crime, forced out of anything negative all because Hideo needs to find out what happened to his brother all those years ago.

She’s so good at what she does though that she gets sucked into the world and life that Zero had created, partially because of curiosity sure, but partially because she was forced.  He sent protection after her and that then turned into Em being forced into an organization known as the Blackcoats.  The group that it seems Zero is leading.  It’s also when Em makes the connection that Zero and Sasuke (Hideo’s brother) are one and the same, and then the story gets even more complicated.

All of this kick starts a roller coaster of a story.  Zero and the Blackcoats are not at all what they seem, and the girl who’s been protecting EM, a girl named Jax must have more of a conscience than the others because she reveals the back story, the history and the future goals of the organization, probably because she knows more than anyone what this life can do to someone.  She also reveals some secrets that completely blow our minds.

Whatever you thought was real, it’s not.  Whatever you hoped was going to be the outcome – it’s not.  Those that you wanted to see together?  impossible.  so from that point on, mind blown.

What’s so nice about the way that our author writes the story though is that the same folks who were pivotal to the first book are absolutely part of this story.  There’s no way that we would have made any progress, shaped the future without the Phoenix Riders, and they are as much a part of Ems life as they are ours.  we get to see parts of their stories as well which not only makes us love them more, but makes us get them and understand the bond that they share together.

The other challenge here is that all you want as a reader is a way to humanize the bad guys in a story.  Zero, Hideo to name a few but also the Blackcoats, Henka..the list goes on.  Ms Lu somehow manages it, and gives us such unique paths for each, in such a creatively drawn, illustrative and colorful world.  I”m in awe of what i’ve read.

We’re given closure here in this 2nd book – we see how outcomes took shape along with the implications of the world around them with these changes.  it’s powerful and emotional and enjoyable all the same.  You really do have to check out this story, and read book 1 first if you haven’t because i can say for sure that this is one of my favorite books read to date and you all know that i’ve read a LOT.  ENJOY!

Review: Warcross (Warcross #1) by Marie Lu

Title: Warcross
Author: Marie Lu
Publisher/Year:  Penguin Group 9/12/17
Length:   305 Pages
Series:  Warcross #1

Overview

For the millions who log in every day, Warcross isn’t just a game—it’s a way of life. The obsession started ten years ago and its fan base now spans the globe, some eager to escape from reality and others hoping to make a profit. Struggling to make ends meet, teenage hacker Emika Chen works as a bounty hunter, tracking down Warcross players who bet on the game illegally. But the bounty-hunting world is a competitive one, and survival has not been easy. To make some quick cash, Emika takes a risk and hacks into the opening game of the international Warcross Championships—only to accidentally glitch herself into the action and become an overnight sensation.

Convinced she’s going to be arrested, Emika is shocked when instead she gets a call from the game’s creator, the elusive young billionaire Hideo Tanaka, with an irresistible offer. He needs a spy on the inside of this year’s tournament in order to uncover a security problem . . . and he wants Emika for the job. With no time to lose, Emika’s whisked off to Tokyo and thrust into a world of fame and fortune that she’s only dreamed of. But soon her investigation uncovers a sinister plot, with major consequences for the entire Warcross empire.

My Thoughts

I don’t know how our author does it – yet another amazingly different series – with a basis in something htat doesn’t even resemble the other series.  It’s such a great next step.

The world that we’re in now is one in the future where virtual reality is a way to escape life and it’s a necessary thing for Emi who’s now 18, alone in the world (her father died and her mother left years ago) and she’s in so much debt that she doesn’t know what’s going to happen next.  As a bounty hunter, that’s her way to make some money since she can’t quite get a job after a hacking situation that got her arrested years ago.  That same hacking is what’s about to save her life.

Warcross is the biggest thing in the world – a game that you can go pro playing and there’s a world championship each year where you can see the best of the best play in a team situation.  Emi hacks into the game just to get a high value power-up that she can sell on the black market and ends up hacking into the game itself – causing all sorts of problems.  In doing that, her life changes forever.

Her identity which she had worked so hard to keep secret is revealed to the whole world, she’s not in the press, and she gets a call from Hideo Tanaka – the creator of the game  – which she fears means her life is over.  Quite the opposite.

Hideo is an interesting character – 18, has demons and ghosts of his own, but the most successful man in the world through the development of his neurlink glasses which allow players to play the game and even see the entire world in VR.  Its intense to think about actually.  He brings Emi to Tokoyo becuase he needs her help and her ability to hack into the game shows that maybe she’s the one who can do it.

There’s someone called ‘Zero’ who’s been hacking into the game and collecting data, and Hideo needs to stop him since he doesn’t know what the end game is.  He hires Emi as a hacking bounty hunter of sorts (along with some others) who he will put into the tournament in the hopes that they can figure out who Zero is.

Through the tournament, we get to meet a lot of characters that make the story so much better.  Emi is put on the Pheonix’s – a team made up of 3 experienced players and 2 wild cards – herself and DJ Ren.  (a well known DJ).  We start to see how close the friendships are with the players and how that really keeps things going.  especially with the competitive nature of all the other teams.

Where this story goes is an interesting journey.  We don’t know who to trust – and we don’t know who’s on what side.  The friendships that grow are great and the secrets that live within Emi tear them apart.  We see an interesting romance begin and it’s something that you really root for since it humanizes a few people, but of course there’s a lot at stake for that relationship to continue.

When we learn the identity of Zero (through a glitch) (mind you i kind of figured this one out earlier on).  we see that what we thought we knew of the hack is something completely different.  The world at the end of the book is nothing like it was when we started and it’s now up to a few to change the course of actions already set in motion in the hopes of saving everyone on the world.

I’m so bummed that book 2 isn’t out already because this was really amazing to read – especially from Marie Lu – but i’ll be patient.  Enjoy!