My rating in stars: 4,5 stars
My rating in words: LOVED IT!
WHAT IT’S ABOUT:
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 players who bet on the game illegally. But the bounty hunting world is a competitive one, and survival has not been easy. Needing 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 (SPOILER-FREE):
“Everything’s science fiction until someone makes it science fact”
So I actually had this book on my Kindle since just after its release. And then I proceeded not to read it, even though rave reviews were popping up left and right. I blaim my reading slump and a slight fear instilled by the massive hype. Come March 2018 and I was determined to finally pick it up, so I did… and proceeded to finish it within days. And let me tell you, I’m actually happy it took me so long to pick it up.
You want to know why? Because I am now obsessed and the wait for book two is killing me already so at least I can console myself with the fact that I only have to wait a few more months as opposed to a whole year. Basically: this book is amazing and I have to jump on the train of all those rave reviews because I feel like all I can do is rave about it. And here’s why:
The fast-paced plot
It doesn’t happen often that I get sucked into a book from the very first chapter. Usually it takes me quite a while, and it’s why I dislike starting a new book. But Warcross hooked me right from the start. We immediately join Emika as she is out of money, about to be evicted from her appartment and bounty hunting a Warcross gambler as a last hope. Though she gives it her all, she fails, so completely out of hope she decides to hack into Warcross, the immensely popular virtual reality game. Stuff happens and she ends up being summoned to Tokyo, to the Warcross headquarters where she is offered a job as hunter/player/spy in the International Warcross Championships. And that is just the beginning. There is never a dull moment in the book and you’ll be turning the final page before you know it!
The vivid setting
Warcross as a game was just brilliant. I have to admit, I was a bit hesitant about it, since I thought the idea of the game would be tricky to execute in book format and I might have trouble imagining it all in my head. But I should not have worried, because the game scenes played out so incredibly clearly in my mind, it was almost like I was playing myself. And I loved it. I loved it so much that I was pretty disappointed when I closed the book and had to realize that Warcross is not an actual real-life game. And it wasn’t only the game scenes that felt so vivid. Since Warcross and virtual reality are so engrained in this world, every single setting feels wonderful and unique. With the glasses or lenses on, you can see people’s names over their heads, their Warcross levels or more info. They can change something about their virtual appearance or carry virtual pets. And regular buildings can be made so much more special with a few virtual reality embellishments. The entire setting felt so incredibly cool, unique and super vivid.
Emika, badass hacker
I grew to adore Emika pretty quickly. She’s a rainbow-haired, tattood, badass hacker who is working as a bounty hunter to gain some money. She could have easily been turned into a cliché but she felt so real and multidimensional and uniquely herself the entire time. With flashbacks scattered throughout the story, we gradually get to know her backstory and this only shapes her into a person to admire even more.
Hideo, genius inventor
I’ve gotta say, though I wasn’t a fan of Hideo – the inventor of Warcross – at first, he really grew on me throughout the story and I came to adore him just as much as Emika. He’s the young genius who invented Warcross, a person Emika has always looked up to and who she now gets to know for real. At first, he’s super polite and distant and this behavior had me questioning him constantly, but slowly the real him peeks through and we discover some of his backstory as well. Though the romance between Emika and Hideo was not overpowering to the story in any way, I thought it was developed very nicely and I am shipping it so hard.
The Phoenix Riders
When Emika is recruited as a player, she doesn’t play alone but instead gets chosen into a team. She ends up with the Phoenix Riders and though we don’t really get to know all of these characters as in depth as we do Emika and Hideo, the feelings of loyalty and friendship between them still were developed so realistically. If there is one thing I am looking forward to for the sequel, Wildcard, it is more of these characters and their interactions.
A killer ending
The ending to Warcross completely blew me away. Some things I did see coming, but others hit me like a brick. When I put the book down, I had to take a few minutes to gather my thoughts. I was shocked and awed and both fearing and anticipating the sequel at the same time. Which only goes to show how genius it was.
Overall, I can only agree with the rave reviews. This was a splendid book and I can only count down the days til Wildcard.
“Every locked door has a key. Every problem has a solution.”
“It is hard to describe loss to someone who has never experienced it, impossible to explain all the ways it changes you. But for those who have, not a single word is needed.”
“But sometimes, people kick you to the ground at recess because they think the shape of your eyes is funny. They lunge at you because they see a vulnerable body. Or a different skin color. Or a different name. Or a girl. They think that you won’t hit back – that you’ll just lower your eyes and hide. And sometimes, to protect yourself, to make it go away, you do.
But sometimes, you find yourself standing in exactly the right position, wielding exactly the right weapon to hit back. So I hit. I hit fast and hard and furious. I hit with nothing but the language whispered between circuits and wire, the language that can bring people to their knees.”
“When you refuse to ask for help, it tells others that they also shouldn’t ask for help from you. That you look down on them for needing your help. That you like feeling superior to them. It’s an insult, Emi, to your friends and peers. So don’t be like that. Let us in.”