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