Quick review for a progressive read. It’s been a while since I’ve picked up a series by Marie Lu, and I’m glad that I was reacquainted with the type of wonderful worlds she builds, particularly in this new series that takes place with an international virtual game (aptly named Warcross Tournament) takes center stage. Emika Chen is a hacker trying to make ends meet, trying to nab whatever rewards she can get from bounty hunting and the odd side-job. Granted, she can’t make her rent payment and her landlord is close to kicking her and her roommate out. In a desperate attempt for money, she engages in a hacking job that puts her on the wrong end of international notoriety – at least until she’s made an extraordinary offer by the creator of the Warcross tournament himself, Hideo Tanaka. What follows is a harrowing game of cat and mouse as Emika chases a dangerous hacker named Zero, while also attempting to keep her identity hidden and blend into the Warcross Tournament as a cover for her true motives.
The double identity has Emika blending with a colorful cast of characters, and also in a whirlwind relationship with Hideo that is both mysterious and intriguing to watch develop over time. I liked the fact that this book kept me guessing at every turn, throwing a few harrowing curveballs for the overarching plot conflict while at the same time really getting into wonderful details of the games and the interactions between Emika and her teammates, with Emika trying to root out friends from foes. I thought the pacing of the novel was great, and the worldbuilding intriguing. I’m definitely looking forward to seeing where this series goes – it had a strong opening and kept my attention through the whole journey. It should be interesting to see what Emika does given the knowledge of the overarching scheme revealed by the narrative’s end.
Overall score: 4/5 stars.