Before I go into this review, I want to give some background which will help you understand my opinions. I have been gaming since Where is Carmen San Diego (insert 8-bit music) and programming/coding for around 15-20 years. And as part of my job I look at code and logs and software and find the problems so they can be fixed (and also apply fixes, depending on how it will take to fix it and how familiar I am with the system). So you can see where this is going and how the review will pan out. Don’t say I didn’t warn you.
I love the hardcover with it’s colours (the Funko’s are lead ladies of two game franchises, Emily from Bioshock Infinite and Emily from Dishonored).
Warcross by Marie Lu
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 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.
I really found very interesting the concept of Warcross (the game). I am not sure how popular it’d be and how it’d pan out (as I know that VR is considered to be just a niche market and not to go as much as expected), but I’d totally give it a go and play and enjoy it. This appealed to my gamer side very very much.
Another thing I found interesting was the way poverty and being on the brink was described, it felt real (as I have been in struggles like that) and it was well done. And if we’re on well done bits, the team work and the diversity of the characters was good. I love the fact that the cast is diverse but it is subtle, they don’t stick out (for me, diversity has always been around and no one has ever stuck out so this is the best portrayal, were it is normal to be from wherever and look however you do).
And now the side I wasn’t too keen on. When Emika finds the first error with Hideo, I totally get it, the whole search for something out of the pattern. I do that, see things from afar and then zoom in. However, my problem is that unless Hideo coded every single bit of code for Warcross (which I doubt, as he has a company and he mentions having programmers or something of the kind), the code would not be smooth. Software is made by several programmers each with a different style of programming and as such, the code becomes a mash of different patterns and sometimes a pattern is broken by a fix added by a different person to someone else’s code. [Please excuse the teacher mode here]. So impressing Hideo with finding the errors so easily felt like a snowflake moment (and this was made even more snowflake after you realise there are other bounty hunters doing the same thing, why isn’t Hideo impressed as much by them, from Emika’s point of view the other bounty hunters totally hide from her and she doesn’t realise they are in the same boat until later).
The romance was also probably not my favourite part. It felt forced and I wasn’t really buying it. Which probably led me to figure out a lot of the plot twists and to have the Chekhov gun feeling for the “biggest twist”. I did guess easily who Zero was.
In the end, I did like the book but not enough to be super crazy about it. I read it expecting it to fail a little on the coding/hacking side, but that is normal after you’ve been involved in things too long.
I’d still read the next books as I am intrigued by “Zero” and the choices made and I’d recommend it for a relatively easy read. The writing was easy to read and it flowed so I didn’t feel like it was chopped or struggled with it.
As expected, I’d recommend Ready Player One because it is good. I’d also recommend watching Summer Wars, somehow it reminds me of this and probably reading Paprika (and watching the film) as they all have this interesting flavour on technology. Each one has a unique point of view of it, though probably Summer Wars is the closest to Warcross in a way.
If you’d like to read the book, you can find it here.
Disclaimer: There is an Amazon Associates link, but if you choose to use them and buy from them, know that you’re just helping me buy more books and feed my reading needs. Book synopsis is from Good Reads.