My name is Ardis and I am an avid reader and budding writer. I want to share my love of books with others. I work with kids and am interested in finding and creating books that will ignite the reader in everyone. Contact me at: ardis.atkins@gmail.com

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Tuesday, September 12, 2017

ARC Audio Book Review: Warcross by Marie Lu

Please Note:  I received an advance reader's audio copy of this book from the publisher in exchange for an honest review.  This did not influence the opinions of my review in any way.  Also, I have linked the book cover to Amazon.  If you buy the book through this link, I will get a small fee.

Synopsis (From Goodreads):
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.

Author Marie Lu wowed me with fantasy in The Young Elites series.  In the Legend series, she takes a stab at science fiction.  I think this third series, Warcross, cements her place among the top science fiction writers around.  This was a highly entertaining novel with fun technology, complex characters and a plot that takes us to unexpected places.

What I Liked:
One of the reasons I love science fiction is because it presents possible futures that actually seem like they could happen.  The technology in this novel was thrilling.  In the book, people use devices (sort of like Google Glass) where information pops up as you look at people.  Advertisements begin to show as you drive near stores, with buy it buttons appearing to make instant purchases.  The glasses interface with a person's brain to create a seamless virtual reality experience.  And the ultimate VR adventure is Warcross, a virtual reality game that everyone in the world plays.  A whole culture evolves around the game with professional teams playing to stadiums full of screaming fans.

Emika Chen is just scraping by on the streets of New York.  The eighteen year-old works as a bounty hunter, capturing small-time criminals that the police don't have time to bother with.  But as hard as she works, she is about to be kicked out of her apartment.  She is obsessed with Warcross and it's creator Hideo Tanaka.  I love how Emika is willing do most anything to survive.  While it's true she does hack into games and steal some small things, she does have a moral compass.  She is not willing to sell her soul to make her life easier.  I enjoyed how Emika goes from jittery loaner to become part of a team.  Her long journey of learning to trust others is tested by the end of the book.

Hideo Tanaka is a Mark Zuckerberg type genius entrepreneur.  He invented the neural interface that makes virtual reality so realistic, and created Warcross.  Still in his early twenties, and already a billionaire, he has isolated himself from others.  When he meets Emika, he is drawn to her independence and ingenuity.  I love that Emika's romantic interest is an Asian hottie!   Thank you, Marie Lu, for showing diversity in your lead male character. 

Unpredictable Plot:
At first, I thought the story was going to follow a traditional path of win the game, solve the mystery, and get the guy.  But, the plot took some surprising turns.  I do not like to give spoilers, but I was impressed that the author was willing to forego a neatly wrapped up finish to create lots of tension that will be very exciting for the next book. 

                 What I Was Mixed About:
Reusing ideas:
Some of the details of this virtual world are things she has used in other books.  People can get points in Warcross when they do things in the real world, such as watering a plant.  This was an exact repeat of she wrote in Champion.  Can an author plagiarize themselves?  While I was surprised by this, it didn't bother me because Marie Lu has taken this seed of an idea from her previous book and expanded it to show an array of possible applications in the world of Warcross.
Audio Production: 
While I enjoyed Nancy Woo's performance, I wish that she would have sounded more like a teen.  Her deep voice seemed better suited to a character who smoked a pack of cigarettes a day than a teenager.  Her attempts to sound younger translated to a Keanu Reeves-like kind of amazement that you get in Bill & Ted's Excellent Adventure.



Release Date:  September 12th, 2017

Genre:  YA Science Fiction

Publisher:  Putman's Sons Books For Young Readers

Length:  368 Pages  

Listening Length:  11 hours, 46 minutes

Audio Book Performer:  Nancy Woo

Source:  Publisher

Format:  Audio Book

Recommendation:  With fun technology (some of which I would LOVE to come true), this book was a fast-paced playland of science fiction.
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2020 Reading Challenge
MsArdychan has read 2 books toward her goal of 120 books.


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