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.
Oh wow! What an unexpected surprise Warcross turned out to be. I will not summarize the plot here. After all, I went in blind too. And by blind, I mean I didn’t even read the blurb. I just jumped in. And I couldn’t jump out till I finished the whole damn book.
First, about the main characters.
Emika is an awesome protagonist; intelligent, street smart, independent, with a healthy sense of self preservation. The book is written in Emika’s point of view and captivates till the end. I developed a little girl crush on this girl, what with her hacking prowess and debugging abilities (I am a coder ha ha), though plot wise, things do work out for her a little too much. I don’t mind that. Emika is as far from a wilting violet heroine as can be. Which is great. There is a romance. This romance does not dictate her life and ideas. Which is refreshing!
Here’s a sample of her life process-
But sometimes, people kick you to the ground at recess because they think the shape of your eyes is funny. They lunge at you because they see a vulnerable body. Or a different skin color. Or a different name. Or a girl. They think that you won’t hit back – that you’ll just lower your eyes and hide. And sometimes, to protect yourself, to make it go away, you do.
But sometimes, you find yourself standing in exactly the right position, wielding exactly the right weapon to hit back.
See how more people (cough girls cough) need to think this way?
Then there is Hideo Tanaka. Ahhh! A billionaire genius inventor who, in this world chock full of Alpha closet-chauvinist billionaire romance heroes, is surprisingly normal and remarkably non-assholish (no this is not a word). I liked Hideo. Dude has world changing ideas and vision, a plan and the hubris to execute it in face of a lot of brewing trouble.
The trouble though…The ghost…That was one plot twist that blew me away and firmly elevated this book from good to great.
The other characters were all well fleshed out and had their stories. They had their nuances. Even the robots and avatars had their own character nuances.
Second, about the plot.
It was realistic, eerily similar to the real world we live in; the world of smart devices and invasive apps and an online presence we really don’t bother to know much about before jumping in. We don’t read the fine print. Heck, we don’t even read the bold print where our personal information becomes electronically available to God knows who when we download an app, configure an intelligent home system in our homes or make endless login profiles on endless internet sites. I must put it out there that I am not writing some kind of anti-technology rant here. It is just what it is and I do it too. And our collective social/entertainment media dependence is a huge part of the plot of Warcross. We get glimpses and hints of what’s going to ultimately happen. The smart people somewhat see what’s going to happen. And they still hurtle head long into the world of make belief the game Warcross represents. That is because it is an escape at first and a compulsion soon after.
Isn’t this how addictions work? Isn’t this how our current social media and smart device addiction works?
The way the whole sane society works Warcross into itself is fascinating to read. The world building is stellar. Real world issues are stitched in seamlessly. There is a very thin line between fact and fiction and that makes Warcross such an awesome sci-fi/fantasy thriller.
I recommend Warcross wholeheartedly to lovers of scifi and romances with a twist alike!