Edna Lopez-Rodriguez ‘20 / Emertainment Monthly Staff Writer
New York Times bestselling author Marie Lu goes back to her sci-fi roots with the start of her new duology, Warcross. Published in September 2017, Warcross is about an alternate universe where a video game rules as the most popular form of entertainment. By putting on specially designed glasses, people are transported into the world of Warcross where they can make any dream a reality. Bounty hunter Emika Chen tracks players who use Warcross illegally. When she accidentally hacks her way into the Warcross championships, she is given the opportunity to travel to Tokyo and work with the mysterious creator of the game.
Lu’s background in video games helped shape and develop the world of Warcross. She graduated from the University of Southern California with a concentration in video game design and worked in the video game industry before she became an author. This is evident throughout the novel as readers learn more about the way Warcross is played. When readers experience Emika playing a round of Warcross, they will feel like they, too, are playing a real video game. The setup for the game is incredibly detailed, and every round Emika plays is thought out. In Tokyo, Lu also incorporates augmented reality into her story making the world of Warcross even more complex.
What makes Warcross compelling is the way Lu weaves mystery into her action-packed story. Throughout the book, Emika investigates a hacker who is trying to ruin the Warcross championships and potentially hurt the creator of the game, Hideo Tanaka. Emika is a brilliant heroine who can solve any problem she is given, but the story effectively shows how even she cannot solve every problem on her own. There is also mystery surrounding Hideo Tanaka. What is known of him is very minimal at the beginning of the story. He’s a child genius who created Warcross at a young age and has become a billionaire and one of the most influential people in the world. Throughout the story, more of his secrets are revealed leading to even bigger mysteries.
The gaming community has a huge influence on this book, and Lu eradicates stereotypes of gamers through her characters. The teams in the Warcross championships are full of diverse gamers from different backgrounds. Characters like Hammie and Emika are important because they demonstrate the big community of female gamers. Lu also does a fantastic job of juxtaposing different cultures. The story starts in New York City where Emika Chen is struggling to make ends meet and Warcross is mainly just a game. The story changes its setting to Tokyo where Warcross dictates all aspects of their society. While the story does take place in an altered version of Tokyo, everything about the setting there felt authentic to the culture.
With mystery, romance, action, and video games, Warcross offers readers a unique read that will not disappoint. The next installment of the series will come out in Fall 2018 and it will conclude the duology.