Wildcard (Warcross #2)
By: Marie Lu
Publisher: G.P. Putnam’s Sons Books for Young Readers
Publication Date: September 18th, 2018
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?
As you, dear reader, might remember, Marie Lu’s Warcross was a colorful, action-packed novel with high stakes and a sizzling romance–absolutely everything that I love in a book. The ending was similarly explosive and also devastating, which left me craving MORE. I couldn’t wait to pick up Wildcard, if only to dive back into the world.
I will say that compared to Warcross, Wildcard is somewhat more lackluster. There’s less of the crazy action, less of the game, less of the romance. It’s more muted and more serious in a way that it has to be, but it’s also a little less fun. But that being said, although I miss the technicolor blast of Warcross, Wildcard really delved deep into a lot of the ethical questions of AR/VR, AI and technology, in a way that still kept me on my toes.
Wildcard opens with Emika in a very different position–cut loose from Warcross and her team, with her ties to Hideo cut, again fending for herself and trying to figure out a way to save people from Warcross’ somewhat deadly new iteration. In doing so, she’s thrust into the hands of a new faction–the hacker Zero and his band, including the assassin Jax. They want Emika to use her connection to Hideo to stop his new program, but she’s not sure they have the best intentions either.
I’m honestly not sure how to write this review without MAJOR spoilers for Warcross–this is always difficult with sequels, although this one is particularly convoluted–and in addition, Emika is bouncing around a LOT. She’s trying to work with the Phoenix Riders, keep Zero and his trigger-happy companion satisfied, and figure out whether Hideo is worth saving despite his sudden villainous mania for justice. I appreciated how the perfect romance set up in Warcross isn’t totally destroyed–I enjoyed Emika’s and Hideo’s ‘wanting to be together but just can’t’ angst despite myself. And I also enjoyed how the Phoenix Riders continued to make an appearance and support Emika even though she was technically no longer part of the team.
The ethical questions raised were also interesting–what would a lack of free will do to the general population? How far can you go to save someone from themself? What is a person, really, and if someone’s body is gone are they still alive? I thought the way that Marie Lu posed and handled these questions was more than a little interesting, and I enjoyed that the true villain of the book was no one who you thought it would be.
Overall, although Wildcard wasn’t quite as crazy as Warcross, and I missed that, I thought it was a thoughtful and overall good sequel, and a good end to the series. I always enjoy what Marie Lu writes, and I can’t wait to see what she has coming out next.
Disclaimer: The synopsis and cover picture were pulled from the book’s Goodreads page. Neither belong to us.