Author: Marie Lu
Release Date: September 12, 2017
Publisher: G.P. Putnam's Sons Books for Young Readers (Penguin imprint)
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.
Warcross is a fast-paced race towards a finish line. Towards money and fame in a world of virtual reality, a world where anything can happen. And anything will happen.
Emika is resourceful, smart and crafty. She knows how to code, how to spot things, how to get in an out of sticky situations. Except for the fact that she's behind on her rent and is about to get kicked out of her apartment. Her struggles are realistic and honest, highlighted by the virtual world that almost everyone is obsessed with. In a time where you can play Warcross, where you can create a world where anything is possible, Emika spends her time thinking about her deceased father, her struggles to make money, and her side job of hunting down cheaters. She, mostly, knows how to problem solve. Until her hacks take her too far. Until the game's creator contacts her with an unbelievable deal, pulling her straight into the cutthroat world of competitive Warcross.
Once Emika is on her way to Tokyo, once she's tossed straight into the Warcross games, this becomes a rather fast-paced, high-octane book. It's all about survival, both in the game and in real life for Emika. Surviving in order to win the stages, surviving in order to keep living. Something, someone, is hacking their way into Warcross, into the matches and the seedy underground scene, and Emika's on the case. But then everything is revealed, leading to the biggest explosion of all. I found the technological aspect, the Warcross virtual world layered over reality while also allowing for total immersion, to be somewhat plausible, considering the current state of VR and video games. I'll definitely be keeping an eye out for the next book to see where Emika goes next.
(I borrowed a copy of this title from the library.)