Yet another dystopian video game book

Marie Lu’s “Warcross” is predictable but worth binge reading

Warcross is the kind of stuff I eat up faster than my Halloween candy (and I have a huge candy addiction). There’s a happenstance rise to fame and riches, high-tech, video game controlled, dystopian world, a predictable but enjoyable romance, and, of course, the classic dark-haired male lead.

Seriously. Have you noticed that every good book has a dark-haired male main character? Harry Potter, Percy Jackson, Rhysand (my favorite character of all time), Dorian Havilliard, Kaz Brekker, Lazlo Strange, and Lucian Kiggs, to name a few.

This book’s dark-haired male lead is Hideo Tanaka. Hideo created virtual-reality glasses that use your own brain to make its images indistinguishable from the real world. Each pair comes with a built in game: Warcross. A team in Warcross works together to capture the other team’s Artifact. They can use or sell power-ups, so there’s a huge power-up black market. Another illegal industry is gambling on Warcross games, which is how Emika Chen’s father lost his living and how she earns it.

While her father gambled his money away before he died, Emika is a professional bounty hunter of Warcross gamblers. She rides through futuristic Manhattan on her electric skateboard by day and sleeps on the floor of her small apartment by night. But bounty hunting isn’t the most dependable source of income, and Emika can’t get a proper job due to her criminal record, so her bank account contains exactly $13 (That’s half of what Book Club has, so Emika is really poor).

Remember that happenstance rise to fame and riches I mentioned? Emika hacks into the opening ceremony of the Warcross world championship games to steal a valuable power up and is accidentally seen by the whole world (the audience is supposed to be invisible). Instead of being arrested, Emika is hired by Hideo Tanaka himself, her idol, to play in the games as a spy and find someone who wants to ruin the games (or something bad). He flies her over to Tokyo and puts her into the games as a Wild Card. Wild Cards are randomly selected top Warcross players that are chosen by the tournament teams. Emika is chosen by the Phoenix Riders, and she moves into the high tech dream house that hosts the players.

And so the plot thickens and continues in an extremely predictable way. Emika plays in the games, totally rocks it, and picks up the trail of the hacker threatening the world of Warcross. And, of course, she falls in love with Hideo. Her readers fall in love with him, too. The man owns a corgi, for Pete’s sake. How could someone with a corgi possibly be evil?

Spoiler: Hideo manages to own a corgi and be sort of evil at the same time. Like, he is basically Satan. No kidding. I don’t mean Satan as in “I want to make everyone miserable”, but more Satan as in Hideo and Satan have the same original goal, if you know about that stuff before the War in Heaven. But I can’t really hate him because of his tragic backstory (every dark-haired male lead needs a tragic backstory).

And THEN there’s a huge twist at the end that I never saw coming but probably should have. I’m extraordinarily gullible. (Person: Look! Gullible is written on the ceiling! Me: *looks up*)

So pretty much, Warcross is a gripping story and well written though very very very very very very predictable. But if you don’t mind knowing what will happen next, you will enjoy Warcross immensely.