It was the absolute best surprise and it made my week to find a review copy of Wildcard by Marie Lu on my doorstep, a mere 2 days after I finished my Warcross reread in anticipation for this sequel. Thank you so much Penguin Random House/Penguin Teen Australia for sending me this review copy in exchange for an honest review. It’s such an honour T_T
Ok, let’s review this baby.
Wildcard is the sequel to Warcross, therefore, there will, of course, be SPOILERS to Warcross.
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?
Rating: ★★★★★ (5/5)
I loved this book SO SO MUCH. It was everything I wanted in a sequel and it was super bittersweet because I obviously want more from this world. I actually had no idea this would be the last book but looking back I never really thought about how it would end because I was still hyped from being on the journey.
Writing & World Building
Marie is one of my absolute favourite authors especially because of her writing. Like Warcross and every other book I’ve read of hers, the writing is so seamless and easy to read. She manages to weave such an intricate and vivid world in her words, without making you think too hard to imagine it all. The simplicity and efficiency in her writing show just why I fly through her books so fast. I read Wildcard in under 24 hours, same with Warcross. I would’ve read them both in one sitting, have I ever been able to (here are adulting times…) and I could’ve easily done it too. The world she created in Warcross continues to unravel and deepen even further in Wildcard. We truly begin to understand the impact the Neurolink glasses have had on humans and society as a whole and how it’s shaped people’s uses and expectations of technology. Not only that, but you truly begin to understand how goddamn smart Hideo was to invent it! I think the only thing that was a tiny teeny bit disappointing for me, was that I stopped caring as much about the actual game of Warcross. I was ready for fist fights and talk offs, and it may be because I had literally just finished my reread of the first book 2 days prior to picking this up but I wasn’t as keen on the actual Warcross games. It was nevertheless super entertaining, gripping and hella action-packed considering I’m watching this game through words.
I can’t reveal too much in this section of course cause spoilers but BOY did things escalate quickly. Before I read this book, I was a little nervous because I had read non-spoiler reviews from book blogger friends who were a little disappointed with this sequel. That said, I think it’s always great to have low expectations for any book cause we all know what negative effects overhyping can have. From the reviews I read, many people found the majority of the book boring because there wasn’t enough action for them – fair enough – however, for me, the buildup was intense and suspenseful and just made me more excited to keep reading. I have read many other books with longer buildups that were definitely super slow burns like Laini Taylor’s books and Maggie Stiefvater’s (both favourite authors so you can see where this is going). Even though that suspense can be excruciating, I love how you’re almost constantly looking for clues along the way. This novel was no exception. I was so into it that I was making up theories in my head as I read to try and figure out the problem and how Emika & Co could solve it. I think any book that can grab that much of your attention, analysis and problem-solving skills is a good book.
MY SHIPPPPPP. Emideo. Hideka. Hemika? I don’t know what the ship is called but I love them so much. I loved seeing their characters again and learning even more about the supporting characters in the Phoenix Riders gang. I thought it was beautiful that Marie included even more information and backstories about these supporting characters because they were all so vital in some way during Warcross and continue their important roles in Wildcard. Learning more about Zero’s past was the unbearable cliffhanger we all had to deal with at the end of Warcross and I was not disappointed with what Marie gave us. His character was so complex that I couldn’t even fully understand him until the end. His character was part of the mystery and the plot and it made this book so enjoyable. I wanted to hack this goddamn book to get the answers we deserved but we got them all in the end.
Emika, as the protagonist, of course, had the best character development in this book. The emotions she has to deal from the aftermath of Warcross are obvious and again, I love that Marie brings in discussion topics on what is moral, what is real and true justice and how far is too far. Honestly, the only thing that truly stressed me out was Emika’s finances. I was doing the maths in my head, thinking like oh shit, is she going to be broke if she has to go back to the US, how will she live? who will help her? (the brain of a broke budgeting student ticking). I was genuinely worried because, after my reread of Warcross, I had totally forgotten how crappy the start of her life began as and how poor she was in that dingy little apartment with a roommate we don’t ever really hear from ever. Anyway, other than that, Emika was beautiful and amazing and the angelic rainbow haired unicorn I always dream her to be.
I loved this book. I don’t know if you’ve noticed that by now in this review but I couldn’t have asked for a better sequel. It was action-packed, full of plot twists and literal gasp moments where I was on the edge of my bed. AH, Marie, you killed me with this one. Please write a prequel or a spin-off series. ANYTHING. I want more from this Warcross world. I would highly recommend this series to everyone and anyone.
This book inspired me to get back into gaming a little bit. I actually got League of Legends, of all games and I’m planning on spending many moons playing stardew valley once my semester is over and I can afford to buy it. This book was super motivating in many ways. Gosh, I love sci-fi fantasy.
If you’ve read Warcross or a review copy of Wildcard, what did you think of Wildcard? I
If you haven’t, what are you doing here? Go read Warcross NOW and be sure to pick up Wildcard when it’s released on the 17th of September, that’s next Monday in Australia so get on it 😉
Until next time,
Thank you again to Penguin Teen Australia/Penguin Random House for sending me a lovely review copy in exchange for an honest review.