“Warcross” by Marie Lu features a young girl who is a bounty hunter in a world where virtual reality has eclipsed real life. Hooked yet? Read the first chapter and you’ll be drawn into the life and struggle for survival along with Emika Chen, whose ability to hack into the virtual world and fight in the real world have helped her survive — barely — in New York.
Emika’s mother bailed on Em and her father when Em was young, and her father died before Em was a teenager. She’s a loner who has had to rely on herself and only herself. She hasn’t paid her rent for months, and the eviction notice is on the door. If she can just bring down one big bounty, she’ll be set. But things don’t work out, and Em doesn’t know what to do.
The virtual reality game everyone around the world loves and plays is Warcross. But when a desperate Emika tries to steal a valuable from the Warcross Opening Ceremony Game, she is accidentally thrust into the game, and everyone around the world sees her. She is invited to Tokyo to meet Hideo Tanaka, a young man who invented the virtual reality system and who is one of the most powerful (and richest) people in the world. She has had a crush on Tanaka for years.
But when Tanaka offers her a job to catch someone who is trying to hack the Warcross game, Emika enters a dangerous game — much more dangerous than Warcross. She is drafted to one of the Warcross teams and becomes an overnight star with a huge fanbase. But what drive Emika is her desire to catch Zero, the person with the evil designs on the Warcross game. Who else is working for Zero? Who are the other bounty hunters whom Tanaka hired?
As Emika grows closer to Tanaka, she begins to uncover some of his private background, things no one else knows. She discovers what drives Tanaka, and in the end, in a splendid twist, she realizes what she’s been fighting all along.
Lu really knows how to get a reader deeply involved in the plot. She creates believable dialogue and characters the reader comes to care about. The combination of action-filled, fast-paced plot and wonderful characters make the book difficult to put down. In fact, it’s very possible that once this first book is finished, the characters, the setting and the plot will continue to resonate in the reader’s mind for days.
This book is one that is sure to please scifi fans, but also readers who enjoy adventure and action books.
Please note: This review is based on the final, hardcover book provided by Putnam, the publisher, for review purposes.