Book Review: Wildcard by Marie Lu

Book: Wildcard by Marie Lu

Published September 2018 by G.P. Putnam’s Sons Books For Young Readers|341 pages

Where I Got It: I borrowed the hardcover from the library

Series: Warcross #2

Genre: YA Sci Fi

All bets are off. This time the gamble is survival.

Emika Chen barely made it out of the Warcross Championships alive. Now that she knows the truth behind Hideo’s new NeuroLink algorithm, she can no longer trust the one person she’s always looked up to, who she once thought was on her side.

Determined to put a stop to Hideo’s grim plans, Emika and the Phoenix Riders band together, only to find a new threat lurking on the neon-lit streets of Tokyo. Someone’s put a bounty on Emika’s head, and her sole chance for survival lies with Zero and the Blackcoats, his ruthless crew. But Emika soon learns that Zero isn’t all that he seems—and his protection comes at a price.

Caught in a web of betrayal, with the future of free will at risk, just how far will Emika go to take down the man she loves?

I really liked this one!  I was really curious about where things were headed after finishing Warcross a few months ago, and I’m glad we finally found out.

We learn a lot more about Zero in this book, and the mysterious Blackcoats that he works with.  I don’t know what I was expecting with Zero’s story, and why he disappeared years earlier, but I’m also glad we learned more about him.  I was surprised by everything that happened with Hideo- I wasn’t expecting it, but I am glad there were consequences to what he did.  I definitely get why he wanted to find his brother, and the lengths he would go to in order to find him.  At the same time, though, I think his technology could be used in ways he never intended, but hopefully, everything will turn out okay with his algorithm.

Emika…I don’t have strong thoughts about her either way.  She’s a pawn for pretty much the whole book, and I wish she had been able to make more of her own decisions.  Emika is more of a messenger/go-between than anything else, and I really missed the parts where she’s with the Phoenix Riders.  I also missed the actual Warcross elements as well, though I get why we don’t see more of the Phoenix Riders and Warcross.

Wildcard is definitely more about Hideo and Zero, and less about the technology Hideo created.  I liked those parts, don’t get me wrong, but I still wish we had seen more of the other things I really liked about the first book.

Part of me is glad that this was a duology, because I can’t really see how Lu would stretch the story out.  At the same time, part of me wants to see Emika and Hideo’s story beyond what we saw in this book.  Overall, it’s a pretty good conclusion to the story.  The story did move pretty fast, and there were times where I kept forgetting the book only took place over the course of a few days.

4 stars.  I really liked it learning more about Hideo and Zero, but Emika seemed boring in this one.  I also missed the Phoenix Riders and the Warcross elements but it’s still a pretty good good conclusion.

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Book Review: American-Born Chinese by Gene Luen Yang

Book: American-Born Chinese by Gene Luen Yang

Published December 2008 by Square Fish|233 pages

Where I Got It: I borrowed the paperback from the library

Series: None

Genre: YA Graphic Novel

 

Jin Wang starts at a new school where he’s the only Chinese-American student. When a boy from Taiwan joins his class, Jin doesn’t want to be associated with an FOB like him. Jin just wants to be an all-American boy, because he’s in love with an all-American girl. Danny is an all-American boy: great at basketball, popular with the girls. But his obnoxious Chinese cousin Chin-Kee’s annual visit is such a disaster that it ruins Danny’s reputation at school, leaving him with no choice but to transfer somewhere he can start all over again. The Monkey King has lived for thousands of years and mastered the arts of kung fu and the heavenly disciplines. He’s ready to join the ranks of the immortal gods in heaven. But there’s no place in heaven for a monkey. Each of these characters cannot help himself alone, but how can they possibly help each other? They’re going to have to find a way—if they want fix the disasters their lives have become.

I really liked American Born Chinese!  After reading his Boxers And Saints series, I knew I wanted to read this book, since I’ve heard a lot of really good things about it.

We see three different stories in this graphic novel- Jin, Danny, and The Monkey King.  I really liked The Monkey King’s story, and I also really liked Jin’s.  I felt so bad for Jin when we first meet him in American Born Chinese, and how his classmates and teachers made assumptions about him.  I also loved the story of The Monkey King, and I really want to know more about that story, because I really liked it.

Danny’s story was my least favorite of the three.  I still liked it, but…I’m not sure what it is about his story, but it just didn’t appeal to me the way the others did.  I wasn’t sure how Danny fit into the book at first, because he seemed really entitled and I wasn’t sure why his story was included for most of the book.  It did become clear at the end, and I honestly didn’t see it coming.  Now that I think about it, I might re-read it, because knowing how all three stories connect would definitely help me see Danny’s story in a completely different way.

One of my favorite things was how it all tied together, and I really liked how the book was about liking yourself and being true to yourself, no matter what.  And I loved how well-plotted the book had to be, because everything was so detailed and thought out so well for everything to work together so well.  I can’t imagine American Born Chinese being told in any other format, and I think, if it were told more traditionally (i.e., a novel) it would lose something. Somehow, it works beautifully as a graphic novel.  I think the illustrations are what really bring the book to life.

4 stars.  Unfortunately, my initial dislike of Danny’s story is what is lowering my rating of the book.  Even though his story made more sense at the end of the book, it didn’t work for me at the beginning.  Still, American Born Chinese is a great read because it’s a really good starting point for talking about a lot of different issues.