Wildcard – Marie Lu – Warcross #2 – G.P Putnam’s Sons – Published 18 September
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?
In Wildcard, Marie Lu once again plunges readers into the neon-coloured sci-fi world of Warcross, where computer gaming is taken to the next level and where the tech that enables a fully immersive experience is now a threat to the freedom of humanity.
After her accidental and startling exposure to the Warcross Championships that led to a fight that put her life on the line, Emika Chen is still reeling from her discovery about tech genius and love-interest Hideo Tanaka’s intentions for his NeuroLink technology. Torn between the boy she has always admired and recently fell in love with and her gut that tells her what he is doing is wrong, Emika is forced to join with the shady Blackcoats. But has she put her trust in the wrong people?
Wildcard jumps straight back into all the action, secrets, and tension that Warcross started. I was again a little overwhelmed by the technology and the logistics involved of the NeuroLink- how exactly do you have a video call with someone while looking at everything they can see and still being able to walk down the street? There are many layers to the technology involved behind the glasses that enable players to experience an enhanced world, and while I’m not sure I can comprehend them all, they certainly make for an exciting story. The backdrop of a bustling Tokyo city is the perfect accent to the Warcross games and fan fever, accented with the colourful NeuroLink overlays.
In Wildcard, readers learn more about Emika’s past, as well as the secrets surrounding Hideo and his brother, Sasuke’s disappearance. In Wildcard, the Warcross battles slip into the background a little as the mystery and intrigue about Hideo’s plans and Em’s mission to stop them become the focus of the story. There is still plenty of gripping action, some of it is now just a bit more life and death compared to the game wars Em is used to.
Wildcard also introduces issues of moral and ethical dilemmas. Em is conflicted as she learns more about Hideo’s plans and how her desire for him, with the man she thought he was, is threatened by that. The boundaries of the NeuroLink and those who seek to control it also provide complex dilemmas -thought provoking for readers and challenging for Em as she must decide which side she is on. I certainly didn’t agree with all of Em’s choices, but they felt true to her character and the story.
Wildcard has everything you’d expect in a epic conclusion to this two-book series: twists and big reveals, high-tension action, and a neat, moderately happy ending.
The publishers provided an advanced readers copy of this book for reviewing purposes. All opinions are my own.
Category: Young adult fiction.
Themes: Computer games, gaming, Artificial intelligence, augmented reality, hacking, memories, romance, competitions, technology.
Reading age guide: Ages 13/14 and up. (Publishers recommend ages 12 and up.)
Advisory: Sex scene, mostly implied with some details. Sexual references, vague references to prostitution. Occasional coarse language, sh** (4), pi**(1), bi*** (1). References to multiple suicides. Violence – attempted murder (assassinations).
Published: 18 September 2018 by G.P Putnam’s Sons Books for Young Readers.
Format: Hardcover, paperback, ebook. 352 pages.