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: The Young Elites by Marie Lu

Book: The Young Elites

Published August 2015 by Speak|384 pages

Where I Got It: I own the paperback

Series: The Young Elites #1

Genre: YA Fantasy

An explosive new series from New York Times bestselling author of the Legend trilogy, Marie Lu 

Darth Vader, Voldemort, Maleficent. Witness the rise of a new villain.

Adelina Amouteru is a survivor of the blood fever. A decade ago, the deadly illness swept through her nation. Most of the infected perished, while many of the children who survived were left with strange markings. Adelina’s black hair turned silver, her lashes went pale, and now she has only a jagged scar where her left eye once was. Her cruel father believes she is a malfetto, an abomination, ruining their family’s good name and standing in the way of their fortune. But some of the fever’s survivors are rumored to possess more than just scars–they are believed to have mysterious and powerful gifts, and though their identities remain secret, they have come to be called the Young Elites.

Teren Santoro works for the king. As Leader of the Inquisition Axis, it is his job to seek out the Young Elites, to destroy them before they destroy the nation. He believes the Young Elites to be dangerous and vengeful, but it’s Teren who may possess the darkest secret of all.

Enzo Valenciano is a member of the Dagger Society. This secret sect of Young Elites seeks out others like them before the Inquisition Axis can. But when the Daggers find Adelina, they discover someone with powers like they’ve never seen.
Adelina wants to believe Enzo is on her side, and that Teren is the true enemy. But the lives of these three will collide in unexpected ways, as each fights a very different and personal battle. But of one thing they are all certain: Adelina has abilities that shouldn’t belong in this world. A vengeful blackness in her heart. And a desire to destroy all who dare to cross her.

It is my turn to use. My turn to hurt.

I thought The Young Elites was interesting!  I liked it, and I wanted to like it more, because I really liked the concept.

Something about the book made me think of the Spanish Inquistion and even the Salem Witch Trials.  I mean, the Young Elites are hunted down and killed because they’re different.  Anyone suspected of being a malfetto was destroyed, and it’s interesting that Teren should be the leader of those tasked with finding the Young Elites.

I really liked Adelina, and she’s dark and twisted and hurt, but she also really cares about her sister.  No one is good or bad in this book, and everyone is very much shades of grey.

I didn’t particularly care for Enzo, and I think his chapters were my least favorite.  Teren, though, was interesting.  I didn’t particularly like him, but I do understand why he acted the way he did.  I really wish we saw more of Raffaele! I would have been happy if we had more chapters with him than with Enzo, but that wasn’t something that happened. Hopefully there is more of him in the rest of the series, should I continue on with it.

I’m not surprised that this book was a fantasy book, but I think part of me was expecting some dystopic or post-apocalyptic elements.  When you start talking about an illness that killed people, but the surviving children come out different…well, I was expecting something a little different.  It’s darker than I thought it would be, and I am curious about what will happen next.  I don’t know if I want to continue the series- while I liked The Young Elites, I don’t know if I like it enough to keep going.  Maybe one day I’ll pick it up, but if I do, I’ll most likely get it from the library.

I never really got a clear picture of the Fortunata Court, and even though we have a map at the beginning of the book, I never really got a good sense of where everything was in relation to each other.  I felt like the Fortunata Court in particular was sort of vague, and I’m not hopeful that we’ll get a better picture of it.  I’m still hoping, of course, but I don’t want to be overly hopeful and then have that come crashing down because it wasn’t described the way I wanted it to be.

3 stars,  I liked it, but I had a hard time getting into it.

Book Review: Warcross by Marie Lu

Book: Warcross by Marie Lu

Published September 2017 by G.P. Putnam’s Sons Books For Young Readers|353 pages

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

Series: Warcross #1

Genre: YA Sci-Fi

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 Warcross players who bet on the game illegally. But the bounty hunting world is a competitive one, and survival has not been easy. 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 liked Warcross!  I liked Emika, and the world she lived in.

Emika is a great character, and she really is a girl just trying to survive.  It’s obvious Warcross means a lot to her, and it’s a pretty important part of her life.  A glitch really changed everything for her, and as it would turn out, things do not go the way she though they would.

Emika’s world was interesting, she does struggle.  But one of the things that kept me from truly loving Warcross was that the world (and Warcross) wasn’t explained very well.  I wasn’t quite clear what Warcross was or how it was played.  Obviously, it’s virtual reality, but it didn’t make a lot of sense to me.  Maybe I wasn’t reading the book well enough, or maybe it didn’t make a lot of sense because I’m not a gamer.  I did like the descriptions when Emika and her team was actually going up against another team, and I thought that was well done.

Maybe I just wish that it translated to the rest of the book.

Worldbuilding aside, I did like Emika’s team as well.  Something about them reminded of the group of people we see in Six Of Crows.  It might be an odd comparison, and I’m not at all sure why these two reminded me of each other, but I’m just going to go with it.  I do wish we knew more about them.  Emika is not at all concerned about what’s going on with them, so because she doesn’t know a lot about them, we don’t know a lot about them.  I wish we did, but hopefully that will change in the next book.

Warcross was entertaining and fun and I feel like I went through it pretty fast.  I did understand some of the motivations behind certain characters, especially Hideo.  And he especially had this really interesting balance of good and bad, so I am curious to see how his story plays out.  Him, more than anyone else.  As interesting as he is, part of me doesn’t like him.

I can’t wait to read the sequel to see where things go!

4 stars.  I really liked Warcross, and I thought Emika and the impact Warcross had on both her and the world was interesting.  It’s entertaining and fun, and an especially great book for people who like video games and technology.  I didn’t love it, but it was still a fun read.