Review: 4 out of 5 stars
Six hours, non-stop, start-to-finish. Thank heaven for this book on a transatlantic flight!
The world lives and breaths Warcross, a virtual reality game-cum-lifespace, a la Ready Player One‘s OASIS. Once a year, a tournament of the biggest players in the game’s competitive sphere grips the globe. Emika Chen, a broke hacker with a criminal record, takes the opportunity to commit a petty-ish crime… that immediately erupts into an international incident. Instead of prosecuted, she’s recruited by Warcross’s enigmatic, handsome young creator, Hideo Tanaka.
From page one, the rush never lets up. Warcross shifts effortlessly from its real world to the game, from action to emotion. Emika is sassy and headstrong, as is required, but she’s freshly modern and realistic. No powers, no tricks: just wits and smarts. She’s got both in spades, plus a heartbreaking backstory and a surprising openness about wanting to find love. Emika’s not a loner by choice. For once, a heroine who doesn’t fight her feelings! Maybe Emika’s hacked a couple of YA novels on that computer of hers.
It’s impossible not to compare Warcross to Ready Player One – which I’m sure is why every quote on the book’s cover invokes some other correlation. Warcross lacks Ready Player One’s cerebral brilliance, the feeling of victory when you, as reader, get a reference or solve a puzzle. Warcross is more of a straight action-thriller, and that’s not a bad thing. The plot works: someone else has hacked their way into the game, and Emika’s job is to find out who. And why. When she does, well, we get a sequel.