Wildcard

Rating: .5
Author: Marie Lu
Genres: Science Fiction, Young Adult
Pub date: Sep. 2018 (read Dec. 2018)
Series: Warcross #2

I read this book on my way home for the holidays and I fear I may have waited too long to review it. I’m already starting to forget parts of this, but I will do my best to review.

Warcross really surprised me last year and ended up being one of my favourite books of the year. Sci-fi is not my favourite genre and I did not like Marie Lu’s Young Elites trilogy, so I didn’t expect to like Warcross, but ended up falling in love with this vibrant and futuristic version of Japan. Sadly I hadn’t heard great things about Wildcard, but I tried to go into it with an open mind.

I thought Wildcard had a pretty strong start. It jumps right back into the action and I was really excited to be re-introduced to the Phoenix Riders and Emika’s world. There is a strong mystery element in Wildcard and you really don’t know who you can trust, so I was definitely intrigued.

Sadly though, Wildcard was not able to live up to the world Marie Lu created in Warcross and I felt it started to buckle under the weight of the plot and the lack of character development. I love a good fast paced plot – and despite everything else, this plot remained fast paced throughout the entirety of the book – but I felt that Lu abandoned a lot of the characters and character development from the first book in favour of new characters and it caused this one to just fall flat.

In Warcross, Emika struggles in trusting her teammates. She is used to working as a lone wolf and takes a lot of pressure and responsibility upon herself. Her teammates want to help and she eventually learns to trust them and realizes that being part of a team is better than operating alone. While the Phoenix Riders are still present in this book, I felt they weren’t integral to the plot and much of the book focuses on Emika and Zero. I liked that Emika made a new girlfriend in this book (I’m sorry you guys, I literally can’t remember her name!! Zero’s second, can anyone help me out here?!), but I really wanted to see more development of the characters we were introduced to in the first book and the Warcross world, but this was really Hideo and Zero’s party and I thought Emika struggle to carry the story.

Where Wildcard lost me was in the plot. I think Marie Lu made this too technical and tried to throw in way too many plot twists. I’ll admit, she got me on a lot of them, but I felt the plot got way too convoluted towards the end that I just kind of tapped out on the book. Warcross introduced this really interesting VR world that I could totally see happening within my lifetime. Lu introduced a lot of thought-provoking moral issues like is it justified to remove people’s freewill in order to completely eliminate crime? I thought there were a lot of interesting ethical questions to explore in this book, but I think Lu sacrificed this development in the interest of writing more action, which really did a disservice to the world she created. It’s a resounding YES that Hideo’s technology to eliminate crime was a bad idea, but we never really explored the benefits and consequences of his algorithm and jumped right to the need to destroy it.

There was so much action in this book, and yet, I was kind of bored. The entire last 30% of the book is just one extended action scene with very limited character development. I stopped caring about the Phoenix Riders and I thought Emika added very little to the development of the story. This really became more about Zero and Hideo and even though there was a lot of action, things started to feel a bit repetitive. I like a good plot, but for me, stories are always first and foremost about the characters. A book needs a good plot to move the characters forward, but I would never sacrifice development for action. I wanted to think about the ethics of a VR world and how to integrate morality with technology, but I guess Lu just wanted to deliver a fast-paced action novel. She delivered on the action, but I’m not sure why I should care about it.

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Warcross


Rating: ⭐⭐⭐⭐

Author: Marie Lu
Genres: Science Fiction, Young Adult
Read: Oct. 2017

 

I love being surprised with a good book! I haven’t read Marie Lu’s series Legend, I didn’t really like The Young Elites very much, and sci-fi isn’t one of my favourite genres, so I wasn’t expecting to love Warcross (or to be honest, I didn’t think it would ever make it off my TBR). But I saw so many positive reviews and I was in the mood for something fast paced, so I decided to give it a try. I’m so glad I did because I really really liked Warcross!

I love the world Marie Lu has built in Warcross. It’s a vibrant tech world in which virtual reality has become a major part of life. There’s no year given for the setting, but it is absolutely believable that our world could one day transform and advance into a place that would look very similar to the world described in Warcross.

The story focuses on Emika Chen, a New Yorker down on her luck, who works as a free-lance bounty hunter by using her hacking skills to track down Warcross cyber criminals. Warcross is the virtual reality game and interface that was invented by young Hideo Tanaka and has completely changed the way people interact. Emika’s life changes when she hacks her way into the Warcross championship opening games and is whisked off to Tokyo to compete undercover in the games.

I really liked Emika. She was very gritty and real. I liked her backstory and really enjoyed watching her grow throughout the novel. She’s always operated alone and it’s hard for her to suddenly have to begin working as part of a team. I loved her teammates Asher, Roshan, and Hammie, and I loved watching Emika learn to trust other people and the relationships she developed with them. My only complaint about the Phoenix Riders would be that I would like to learn more about Asher, Roshan, and Hammie’s backgrounds. They were good characters for Emika’s development, but I hoping to see more individual development in the next novel!

Finally there’s Hideo Tanaka. He was a very interesting character too. I wasn’t really into the romance – I thought it was predictable and I didn’t really buy into it. But I really liked Hideo’s backstory and I think the ending leaves a lot of room to get into some really interesting moral themes in the next book! Where do we draw the line with technological advances? What are the risks to humans with the advance of artificial intelligence? Is violence ever an okay means to advance an end? Can there ever really be world peace? Is protesting against the law? Can we assume that all laws act in the best interest of the people? Without dissent, how can we change the law?

Like I said, so many fun places this story can go – I’m super excited to see where Marie Lu takes things in the next book!