Warcross is situated in a future world where Hideo Tenka is the new Alexander the Great. He tried to invent a videogame that was as realistic as if you were really in it, but no matter how hard someone can code, something will always seem a little off, because of the intelligence of the human eye. So he came up with an alternative. Know how when you sleep and have a dream, everything looks real? He came up with glasses that toggle that function in the brain, and the Neurolink was born, a world where not only is there the best Capture-the-Flag game in the world, Warcross, but a world where these glasses help with functions such as translating, policing, identification, advertising, you name it. And 90% of the entire human population now owns at least one pair of these glasses and is signed in. And New Yorker Emika Chen is trying to make a living by capturing hackers that the rest of the police are too busy to capture, what with there being so many of them and the big Warcross tournament in Tokyo only days away. But the police don't care to give Emika the reward, saying the hacker she caught was already identified by someone else. Not. Struggling, Emika manages to hack her way into the tournament and attempts to go for a power-up that if she can hack and sell, will pay off the gambling debt left by her late father. But she accidentally glitches the game and ends up as a Warcross Tournament participant, with Hideo Tenka himself giving Emika a mission to find a tech-terrorist named Zero.
Now, I haven't read a book by Marie Lu since I was disappointed in the last book in her Legend trilogy. But looking at Warcross and its brilliantly molded, rigged and lit cover, I remembered the amazement I felt when I finished the second book in that series, Prodigy. After I finished that book, I wanted to sit down in a corner and linger in my thoughts, fears and stresses about the world and my future. So I decided I was going to take another go at a new world by Marie Lu. And here's the gist. Remember how I said in my Stranger than Fanfiction review by Chris Colfer that he managed to utilize the fact he played a gay character in Glee, was a college dropout before landing the role, and is now a pop sensation for that book? It's the same for Marie Lu in this case, seeing as she was a video-game artist before becoming a full-time writer. Or maybe she still is a game artist. I'm speaking on behalf of her updated author skim.
You want to know something I've always wanted to be able to do, besides get a great job, star in a movie, and be a bestselling author? Being able to fly like a bird or do all sorts of superpowers, from reading minds to being a living stink bomb. This book's descriptions of how its technology works are so simple yet brilliant and inventive, that reading about how the Neurolink allows you to do that sort of stuff, in a way, felt like it's a possible future. And I can fully understand how 90% of the world would own one of these glasses. Think about how many people have an internet device today. And think about all the people in the world, yourself included, who have always dreamed of superpowers.
It's also not only a realistic book, but a relatable one too. Emika starts off as a petty bounty hunter and by the time she catches someone off the gird and causes him to sob, she doesn't get the money over different excuses as to why not despite the fact she was promised $5,000. There's also even some political problems that step in. I won't spoil what, but let's just say in a world like this, also known as a world that could end up like this, both sides of this argument would be declared heroes and criminals and civil war would arise.
Emika ends up causing an international tournament to glitch and when she realizes the mistake she made, I could almost feel a cage forming around her. I also enjoyed how when Emika gets put to the test against some other people who have sponsors for Warcross, not only is it dynamically entertaining, which is the catch for a lot of training sessions in YA novels, but it doesn't condescend to the fact Emika's kind of new to this stuff. She holds her game, like someone who's worked at a chip truck and is now a chef at a big cuisine. She's not unskilled. Also, let's just say this book is loaded with heart-stopping moments in its realism, including a hack that erases files that are so valuable and personal to one of the characters, I thought I felt tears forming. That day, I read 120 pages of this book all the way to the end.
I think the only big criticisms I can give are sometimes it feels like a relationship pulled from the Fifty Shades of Grey arc, in that the young billionaire boss boy meets the outsider girl. Thankfully, their relationship has no other boundaries overstepped and no other similarities. And also, it took a little while to get really into the book, and I felt this imposter mystery could've been more surprising. It gets more interesting by the end, though, and I can live with those kinds of tiny things. Warcross reminded me of why I became a fan of Marie Lu in the first place and why reading for teenagers is fun if you have the right book for them. And this will be it. As you may know, this book was tied with The Love Interest on my Top 10 Best Books read in 2017.