Wildcard by Marie Lu
Publication date: 20 September 2018
Genre: Young adult science fiction
Page count: 341 pages
Rating: 4.25 out of 5 stars
I received a copy of this book in exchange for an honest review. This review is spoiler-free for Wildcard but will contain major spoilers for Warcross. If you’d like to read my review of the first book, you can check it out here.
I read Warcross last year and tore through it. I’m not usually the type to like books about virtual reality and video games, however I found the world of Warcross to be so incredibly compelling and I really loved the characters. Eager to read more about this thrilling world, I was thrilled to read an early copy of the sequel, Wildcard. The concluding book in the Warcross duology is just as fun and fast paced, but the stakes have grown even higher for Emika Chen.
For the millions who log in every day, Warcross isn’t just a game – it’s a way of life. And teenage hacker Emika Chen has found herself caught up in a conflict that could change the world.
Warcross creator, Hideo Tanaka, wants to use to the game to control peoples’ thoughts and feelings, effectively ending free will – Zero, a mysterious (and dangerous) hacker, wants to stop him.
Now Emika must decide who she will fight for. The game is on . . .
Wildcard is just as thrilling as Warcross, but it goes deeper into the world that Lu creates. I absolutely love her vision of near-future Tokyo and we get to see more of it in Wildcard. The thing that really worked for me is the fact that Lu decided not to pull a Hunger Games/Catching Fire on us — Catching Fire is just a rehashing of the first book’s plot, something that I found incredibly annoying, and I’m seeing this trend in YA books lately. Instead of just having another Warcross-focused book, Lu branches out further into her world, making it all the more exciting. The games haven’t gone away — we get a couple of gaming scenes and there are events going on in the background — but this book is all about Emika and Hideo. Emika has to make a choice — is she going to join Zero and his group of hackers or is she going to try to save Hideo from himself. I love that this book is all about choices and murky morality — it’s the exact kind of plot that works so well for me.
We are introduced to a number of new characters in Wildcard, but old favourites feature heavily as well. Emika remains one of my favourite YA heroines — her personality doesn’t change as soon as the love interest appears and she’s so strong and capable without him. She has so much agency, and I love her for it — her world doesn’t revolve around Hideo. Although her feelings for Hideo do cloud her judgement, she has a strong head on her shoulders and is sharp and smart. Hideo himself may be one of my favourite YA love interests. I love his grey-area morality and the fact that although he definitely fills the role of ‘villain’ in this duology, you can absolutely see his reasoning and understand him. He sticks by his morals, dubious though they may be, and he remains a fascinating character.
Zero and Jax are two new characters that I really loved. Zero is, as we find out in the first book, Hideo’s long-lost brother Sasuke. Lu dives into his mysterious back story and we discover what happens to him after his kidnapping, and what sort of man he has become. Jax, a completely new character, is tied in with Zero. She’s a brilliant example of a well-written badass woman. I wont say more about these two, but I really like the Blackcoats and learning more about them is half the fun of Wildcard.
Wildcard is such a fun and enjoyable read that expands upon the fantastic world and plot of the first book — it’s another very solid read from Marie Lu. It’s a different book from Warcross and some readers may be disappointed by that, but if you’re interested in digging deeper into the dark underworld that was only touched upon in Warcross, you’re in for a treat.
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