Why? Just Why?|| Wildcard by Marie Lu

(Alternative title: You all know that this is way overdue. Oh well, black sheep mode on.)

Before Reading:

Dare I say it, I love Warcross. Sure, I had some issues with the fast-paced romance. But it had the technology that left me in awe. It was so cool to imagine a young adult novel that explores a topic close to my area of “expertise”. I loved it so much that I was close to writing to Marie Lu to pitch it as an anime. Wildcard easily became one of my most anticipated sequels for 2018. Heck, I even drew fanart despite me not liking the book.

Oops, I said too much early on. Oh well, since it’s out there. Wildcard was not for me.

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WildcardTitle: Wildcard

Author: Marie Lu

Genre: Science Fiction, Fantasy

Date Published: 18th of September 2018

ISBN: 0399548017

Series: Warcross #2

Publisher:G.P. Putnam’s Sons Books for Young Readers

Buy it on: AmazonBook Depository | Audible

Summary:

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?

After Reading:

I tried to lower my expectations for the sequel. I know that nothing good comes out from expecting too much. But even after everything I did to mentally prepare myself for it, I was ultimately let down. At first, I thought “There must be something wrong with me. Why am I not liking this?” I had to keep reminding myself that I love Warcross. That’s the reason why I must love this book. But it was not working. It was really tremendously frustrating to not be liking what I was reading. So I gave up and skimmed its majority. Once I finished it, I was more than thankful that it was finally over and I can finally move on to another book.

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I was originally supposed to be reviewing Wildcard in participation of a tour, but with my low rating, I decided to opt out and post an excerpt instead. Hence, I received an unsolicited advanced reader’s copy of this book. Nonetheless, this did not affect my opinions about the book in any way.

So this is what it feels like to be the black sheep, huh? In all seriousness, I wanted to love Wildcard. I anticipated the technical things that I loved while reading Warcross: the undeniably great page-turning writing style, the delightful twist and turns, Emika Chen being an incredible badass, and me slightly rooting for Zero. But upon reading Wildcard, those elements sort off went off the table.

Let me start with the page-turning writing style: this time around, it’s not. I found myself struggling with the first 10 chapters, and as I previously mentioned, I skimmed a majority of the chapters. In a way it was like reading word vomit. While the span of days in Wildcard were shorter, it felt like prolonged agony. Sure, it got a bit better by the second half, but by then I was just not having it anymore. There was this feeling that there was a lot of unnecessary things being said, and it wasn’t really needed for the time frame. How do I put this lightly? Yes, the writing had essence but the pacing was evidently off.

Then we have the delightful twists and turns. It was not, and I honestly couldn’t care less. “Oh by the way he’s *tooooooooooooooot*”. The general reaction I had was, “Oh okay. What a stretch, by the way.” I wasn’t having it. I mean yes, it tackles the danger of a technology overlord that we might end up encountering in the future, but there is always this mentality in me that kept on screaming, “Humans are more powerful than any machine.” This in turn kind off made Wildcard feel like there is much info-dumping. There are other books in YA that have dealt with artificial intelligence, but the way it was introduced in Wildcard felt like a bit of a stretch.

Now we go to Emika: I have so much respect for my girl. But I did not like how she was basically being played with in this book. If Hideo and Zero wanted to play “Pass the Message”, they could have done it themselves to be honest. She honestly deserves better! What’s worse is that Emika’s hacking prowess was suddenly non-existent for huge chunks of the book? What happened to all of the progress in Warcross? More so, the characters in this novel felt flat. Asides from feeling no engagement with this book, I wasn’t fully invested with its characters. Like they were there to fill a void. Sometimes their voices become so similar that I have to backtrack a little bit to see who was talking.

(Also, I am still not on board (and will never be) with the romance between Hideo and Emika. It still felt forced and undeniably insta-lovey for me to take it seriously. Emika can live her badass life without him in the mix, to be honest.)

On a lighter note, what made me give it at least a 2.5 star equivalent is related to how the book expanded Zero’s personality. We get more depth about what actually happened to him and how he ended up in that sort of situation. That being said, I still have issues with all the things surrounding data and physical shells. Things that surrounded the very core of his existence left me with tons of unanswered questions that had my eyes rolling. I want to keep my review spoiler-free, so I will leave it at that.

Wildcard, like its predecessor, is unpredictable and brimming with the wonders of where technology can go. However, with the missing elements such as the games and the hunt, and a slightly confusing addition of much more complex aspects of science fiction, it was ultimately not for me. With an underwhelming ending that felt a little bit too convenient, it left me with feeling “Yeah, let’s move on to the next book so we can forget this one already.”

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(Know more about my rating system here.)

I mean, sure there are takeaways and it gave a morally important question as a base of its premise. It really sounded like a solid idea. But there are so many factors that I cannot deal with.  *sigh* But I am not giving up on Marie Lu because I know I still have a lot to catch up on her books. And yes, I still love Warcross. I’ll just try to forget that there’s a sequel. That’s my silver lining.

So… Wildcard huh?

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PH Blog Tour: Warcross by Marie Lu

(I came back from the dead for this.)

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C: > Initiate Warcross review post

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User’s brain not found.

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Hello. It has been a while. I’m just giving you a glimpse of my system glitch before I wrote this review. The brain cells are a little bit rusty. Wait, I am making so many references right now and that is just plain weird. So to catch on, a moment of silence for a few fangirl noises:

DROP EVERYTHING. READ WARCROSS. RIGHT NOW. DON’T HESITATE.

Before Reading:

Despite starting the year off with a rocky 3 stars, I decided to give Marie Lu another shot. I have read The Young Elites from her, but my feelings were stuck in the ‘ in between ‘. But when it came to Warcross, the inner musings of my brain decided that it wants to ingest it like an eagle hungry for a monkey. I did not even think. I went for it head on. I have no idea why I’m word vomiting like this. (Probably due to the fact that I just rose from the grave.)

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29385546Title: Warcross

Author: Marie Lu

Genre: Science Fiction

Date Published: 12th of September 2017

Series: Warcross #1

Publisher: G.P. Putnam’s Sons Books for Young Readers

Buy it on: Amazon| National Bookstore | Fully Booked

Summary:

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.

After Reading:

*sigh* Oh wait no, wrong emotion. Wait, I don’t even know what I want to feel because Marie Lu has finally won me over. Something else entirely, but still! I am trying to be as vague as possible, but plot twists can make anyone go nuts. Luckily, I braced myself for this kind of impact. So let’s go through with this.

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To be honest with you lot, I entered the world of Warcross without knowing anything about it. Despite the hype surrounding it online, I drowned everything out. I only knew three things before I started reading Warcross:

  • It is written by Marie Lu.
  • There’s a game involved.
  • 3D stuff?

Even the last part had a question mark because I had to assume that three dimensional objects were involved because of the multicolored cover. If I knew more, it would probably take me a lot more convincing to read it. But here we are. I went into it blind. And praise to the heavens, it was probably one of the best decisions that I have made in months. MONTHS. For blogging reasons, obviously.

And there is so much more to talk about. Since I have a background on animation and information technology, all the talk about virtual reality and the NeuroLink made me all giddy. With the technology we have today, it felt like Warcross can happen in the near future. If you ask me if Warcross is possible, I would not hesitate to say “bloody hell, yes.” Why? The vivid imagery that Warcross has presented captured my heart. It reminded me of Sword Art Online, but the only comparison that I could point out is the technology that they both possess. Both worlds deal with virtual reality, but in this case, Warcross is much more advanced. SAO requires its players to have the gear to experience the virtual world, much like the VR headsets made by Oculus and Samsung today. Warcross however, only requires a pair of glasses. It is so simple, yet realistically complex in many ways. There is so much to explore in the alternate reality that Marie Lu has created. The setting was brilliant and edgy, basically a science fiction enthusiast’s dream. (I mean, just setting it in Tokyo had me sold. Those who petition to not let Hollywood get this and make it an anime instead, say “aye”?) But anything powerful has its downside. The dark part of Warcross is sinister and twisted, but it also contains the most interesting parts of the tale.

And of course, it’s not just about the game. Warcross is filled with a colorful cast. An addition to the many badass ladies of young adult fiction is Emika Chen, a bounty hunter hailing from New York. I was immediately drawn to her, due to her impressive skills when it comes to coding. I have absolute respect for girls who code, and Emika is such a boss at what she does. Despite her grief and misfortunes, she faces the world head on. Her self-discovery in this book is delightful to read, and every task she accomplishes makes me want to scream like a proud mom. (Oh, the irony.) Did she really need a love interest? Maybe not. I also found myself fancying Hideo Tanaka, the elusive and dashing creator of Warcross in the first part of the book. But the more I knew about him, the more I drifted apart from his character. Not that it’s a bad thing, but he just felt off for me.

(Funny story: I actually thought that the main lead of the series will be a guy. And right now, you’re probably saying “THIS IS WHY WE READ SUMMARIES AT THE BACK FIRST, BIANCA.”)

While I was not a fan of the romance entangled within it’s pages, I definitely enjoyed the team dynamics and the thrill of the game itself. The foundation of the games lies on teamwork, with each player having a role vital to the team’s success. I will not spoil the placement of the teams but key players that has so much passion for Warcross managed to get their feelings across to me. I was hooked by each players’ dedication and determination to win. I easily rooted for the main team, and maybe I may have wished that there were more scenes concerning the games rather than the scenes filled with love. *pukes*

Warcross has reaffirmed me that I have a soft spot for the science fiction genre. It never ceases to amaze me, and it continues to baffle me on how writers come up with amazing alternate realities close to our current timeline. But the real winner here is Marie Lu. Her writing style literally never lets you take your eyes off each page. The fast-paced intensity of every single chapter can leave you on your tiptoes. Blink once and you might actually miss something. It is easy to submerge oneself into Warcross, and quite frankly, leaves you craving for more. Where’s the sequel already?

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(Know more about my rating system here.)

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Marie Lu is the author of the #1 New York Times bestselling series The Young Elites, as well the blockbuster selling Legend series. She graduated from the University of Southern California and jumped into the video game industry as an artist. Now a full-time writer, she spends her spare time reading, drawing, playing games, and getting stuck in traffic. She lives in Los Angeles, California, with one husband, one Chihuahua mix, and one Pembroke Welsh corgi.


Thank you so much to Rafael from The Royal Polar Bear Reads for hosting this blog tour. I cannot emphasize my sincerest thanks to you for giving me the opportunity to join this tour despite my lack of presence here. I consider this as a power-up, and I will use it wisely starting today. Also, massive thanks to Penguin Random House for providing copies for the tour. You guys are more awesome than the glasses. *winks*

End scene. Now, how about that fangirls and fanboys? Consider picking up Warcross today. (Ughh, I sound like a commercial. This is what advertising does to you.)

Want to fangirl/fanboy about Warcross?

What other books by Marie Lu have you read?

Am I back from the dead for real?

Let’s chat! Talk Warcross with me!

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