Warcross – Marie Lu – G.P Putnam’s Sons Books for Young Readers – Published 12 September 2017




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. 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

Warcross is a dramatic and thrilling science-fiction. All-too believable technology, fast-paced action, a compelling mystery, complicated and forbidden romance, and a really likeable main character – Warcross has everything that will keep readers glued to the pages.

Emika Chen is a bounty hunter. She hunts criminals who gamble on the world-wide phenomenon, virtual reality game, Warcross. It’s the only way she can afford to live and slowly repay her father’s debts. But in a moment of desperation, Em accidentally glitches herself into the biggest Warcross game of the season, instantly displayed across the vision of millions of people. Instead of begin arrested, though, Emika is recruited by the game’s founder, Hideo Tanaka, to play in the Warcross championship, working undercover to help him find the person responsible for dangerously hacking into the games.

The hype that surrounds this novel is well deserved. There is non-stop action and an engaging plot line. The technology in this book is advanced but still recognisable enough that it seems totally plausible and slightly scary. Unfortunately, there were a number of occasions when I didn’t quite understand the technology or thought there were inconsistencies that didn’t make sense – translation pop-ups when she wasn’t wearing the glasses, confusion about what was virtual and what was not, etc. Perhaps these resulted from my own limited understanding or simple mistakes in the writing that will hopefully be cleaned up before publication. However, for what is a complex world and technological system it is conveyed quite well throughout the story.

Emika is an instantly likeable main character and narrator. The more I learnt about her and her past, the more I liked her. And then, later, when I found out why she had a criminal record I was very impressed. Emika, you are my hero! Em also retains her sense of justice throughout the story, despite the complications thrown her way.

Along with Em, Warcross hosts a range of interesting characters. There is a wonderful show of diversity – ethnic, sexual orientation, background, and ability – that is never a focus of the story, but just forms an easy, natural part of it. And yes, Hideo is just one of those complex and intriguing characters. I really liked how Em has idolised Hideo since her childhood. Meeting him, working with him is far different than she would have imaged. The romance is delightfully tense, impossible, sweet, and then, at the end, really, really complicated. I can’t wait to see how it will all unfold in the sequel.

The ending of Warcross only ramps up the tension and throws in a huge twist that perfectly sets up the next book. I saw the twist coming, but it remains very intriguing and I look forward to reading book two. Warcross is highly recommended for readers who enjoy sci-fi, strong characters, complex technology advancements, complicated romance, and lots of action.

The publishers provided an advanced readers copy of this book for reviewing purposes. All opinions are my own.

More information

Category: Young adult fiction.

Genre: Science- fiction.

Themes: Virtual reality, competitions, video games, action, adventure, Tokyo, bounty hunters, romance, hacking, family, grief, debt.

Reading age guide: Ages 12/13 and up.

Advisory: Sexual references, heavy kissing scenes, passing references to virtual sex and voyeurism. Occasional coarse language, sh**.

Published:  12 September 2017 by G.P Putnam’s Sons Books for Young Readers.

Format: Hardcover, paperback, ebook. 368 pages.

ISBN: 9780399547966, 0399547967

Find it on Goodreads