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Warcross #2


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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?

352 pages, ebook

First published September 18, 2018

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About the author

Marie Lu

59 books133k followers
[Note: Many apologies, but I'm woefully bad at checking my Goodreads emails! If you'd like to send a note/msg, please catch me on Twitter: http://twitter.com/Marie_Lu . Thanks!]

I write young adult novels, and have a special love for dystopian books. Ironically, I was born in 1984. Before becoming a full-time writer, I was an Art Director at a video game company. Now I shuffle around at home and talk to myself a lot. :)

I graduated from the University of Southern California in '06 and currently live in LA, where I spend my time stuck on the freeways.

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Displaying 1 - 30 of 7,346 reviews
Profile Image for chai ♡.
321 reviews153k followers
August 15, 2022
Finishing this book was a personal achievement but you can’t really brag about that at dinner parties. It’s just…the kind of book you read, and it fills you with the wrong things: you use a lot of energy to get through each chapter, and in the end, you feel emptier than ever before.

I loved Warcross, and it floored me to read this book and experience such a sudden shift—I feel as though a script had been shuffled and I’d been handed the wrong pages. The utter wrongness of it, the way it won’t fit in my head, keeps coming back to me again and again, as if I’ve only just read it. Honestly, there has to be some fundamental law of the universe against sequels that don’t live up to their prequels, and if there isn't, I want it written somewhere that I am conscientiously objecting.

The concept and execution in this book are so divorced as to bear no relation to one another. But the biggest problem with the story was the pacing. It takes a long time for the plot to really kick in, trusting on the reader to be invested enough in the possibilities of the story to make it there. Unfortunately, there isn’t really an infinite store of patience to be had, and every page lasts for what is likely only a minute but seems to drag across several years. Eventually, the boredom quickly swallowed my enthusiasm so that what was left simply felt like utter indifference.

I must’ve really liked Emika Chen at some point—but I can no longer accurately place her in my head. She gets just enough attention to make it clear she’s important, but that importance never really goes anywhere. We’re expected to believe that she is the fulcrum around which the fate of everyone turns, yet now that I think about it, days later, with the clarity of thought necessary to step back from my disappointment and truly look at what she has done, I realize that her contribution to the narrative racks up to a sum of exactly 0. The people actively attempting to see the pathway out of their problem and into a solution is everyone else but her. Same thing for Hideo: he only haunts the edges of the story but never gets quite enough focus to mean much. I was so artfully uninterested in whatever outcome they bring about until we reach the ending and I realize with enormous indignation that they get to collect all the benefits without having done any of the work. Seriously, what the hell did they actually do? Don’t even get me started on Hideo being portrayed as some sort of Tragic Figure™️ who’s only ever wanted to find his brother, and not addressing the whole, you know, “he created an algorithm that controlled and resulted in the literal deaths of people” thing? I guess rich people get away with actual crime in fiction too.

I was also disappointed that at one point, what seemed like the lead-up to a thrilling Warcross game didn’t materialize at all—actually, there is a huge shortage of Warcross in this book. I guess the book was less interested in that aspect than I was, and cast it off relatively quickly in favor of pursuing a less enjoyable narrative cobbled together with few plot twists that—when taken all together—didn't quite reach the high water mark set by the first novel, and building up to an ending and denouement that somehow skirt the edge of taste to be ludicrous and not the least bit satisfying.

It’s really a sad thought, but there’s a saving grace: Emika’s team. I was so excited to know them and know the gestalt of who they are, and fortunately for me, we do! Learning about Tremaine and Roshan’s backstory, Hammie’s family, Hammie and Asher’s relationship was about the only thing that buoyed my spirits.
Profile Image for Sabaa Tahir.
Author 27 books31.8k followers
April 13, 2018
I like sweets. You all know this. Ice cream is one of my favorite sweets. I do not take my ice cream lightly. When I get ice cream, you can bet that I'm gonna savor it.

Well the other day, I was at a restaurant reading Wildcard and I ordered ice cream. It arrived and then it melted. Why? Because I WAS SO IMMERSED IN THIS BOOK THAT I COULDN'T THINK ABOUT ANYTHING ELSE BECAUSE THAT'S HOW GOOD IT IS.

Marie did an amazing job writing this conclusion to a fantastic duology. The character development is remarkable, the heartbreaking bits are soul-crushing, the happy bits made me grin like an idiot. There's one specific villain in here who I wanted to kick in the face, and the entire thing was so cleverly plotted. It is a WONDERFUL book and I highly recommend that everyone read it.

But Marie, you owe me ice cream b/c it's 100% your fault that mine melted before I could eat it.
Profile Image for Emily May.
1,962 reviews294k followers
September 18, 2018
That's the difference between the real and the virtual. Reality is where you can lose the ones you love. Reality is the place where you can feel the cracks in your heart.

2 1/2 stars. Wow, I'm really not sure how to rate this book. I think it was pretty poorly-paced with weak characters, but I also liked some of the exciting twists and turns Lu took.

My experience with this book actually makes me wonder if I was in a really good mood when I read Warcross. Emika is so bland. Was she always this bland? I'm not sure. All I know is that she had absolutely no agency or independent thought in Wildcard. This book sees her being used as a pawn by everyone - her motivations seem always tied into what Hideo or the Blackcoats want.

Emika responds to events as they occur, seemingly without any drive or feelings of her own. As someone who really likes to connect with the narrator or protagonist, it was a little difficult to stay engaged at times.

There were two things that drove the plot of Warcross for me and kept the pages turning: 1) The action of the Warcross game itself, and 2) the dynamic between the Phoenix Riders. The first of those is, of course, completely absent in Wildcard, but there's also a disappointing lack of the second. The Phoenix Riders don't feature for a huge chunk of this book, with the focus instead being on Hideo and Zero (and, I guess, Emika, except it feels like she does nothing).

The Zero aspect of the story is fairly interesting, and I'm glad we got to see what happened to him. In fact, discovering his story is what about 75% of this book consists of. The last 25%, however, felt soooo long. I think these later chapters were supposed to be a concentrated stream of action leading to a dramatic climax, but it feels like it goes on forever, dragging out an ending that already seems inevitable.

Okay, and I'm sorry to keep reiterating this point, but what exactly does Emika do in this book? She literally acts as a mouthpiece and a go-between. She witnesses things happening to other characters, and she seems to have very little opinion on some of the morality issues Lu brings up. I swear Wildcard could just as easily have been told by an omniscient narrator and little would change.

Perhaps my problem with this sequel is that the exciting action and the diverse Phoenix Riders in Warcross disguised problems I might otherwise have had with it. Once you take those things away, Emika Chen struggles to carry the story.

CW: Suicide (nothing graphic); drug abuse.
Anti CW:

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Profile Image for Emma Giordano.
317 reviews116k followers
September 21, 2018
Despite my excitement for the sequel to one of my favorite books of 2017, I’m very let down by Wildcard. It did not reach the potential I felt it could have. I’m stuck between 2.5 and 3 stars because my grand disappointment feels so severe, but I think 3 stars is the most fair rating.

CW: suicide, drug abuse, violence

Let me preface by saying the great moments of Wildcard were GREAT. The scenes depicting games of Warcross were FLAWLESSLY executed in terms of pace, structure, and choreography. There were absolutely scenes that reminded me why I fell in love with the story of Warcross in the first place.

Other than that, this book was just . . . underwhelming. I felt the high intensity story of Warcross was bogged down by filler scenes and LOTS of dialogue. When attempting to reflect on the entirety of the plot, it feels as if not much happened until the end. I understand the book takes place in such a short span of time but I almost would have preferred to have TOO much going on as compared to too little. Combined with a very slow pace, the book dragged in a way I never expected it to. To be frank, I truly feel like the complete sequel was unnecessary and I would have preferred Warcross to be longer and complete the story as a standalone.

One of the elements I loved in Warcross were the characters. I loved the relationships and dynamic against this refreshing cast, but it was pretty lacking in book two. Emika is a very passive character in Warcross, responding to how others act, yet not often acting herself. The Phoenix Riders as a group play a minimal part in the story and did not possesses the same intrigue I felt in book one. Hideo is more of a “figure” we talk about/hear about in Wildcard rather than an active character as well. Zero is the one character who actually receives some attention (and was done very well - his story line was one of the only redeeming plot lines of the book), but it wasn’t able to hold up the entirety of the story. I am pleased with the introduction of ONE new character and the exploration of a few others, but other than that, the characters were extremely weak compared to book one. I craved so much more interaction and development than what we actually got.

Overall, I’m very saddened to give this book a poor review. It was one of my most anticipated books of the entire year and I can’t express how disappointing it is to not have loved it. I do think it’s worthwhile to read if you were a huge fan of Warcross like myself, but I expected so much more than what was given.
Profile Image for emma.
1,825 reviews48.4k followers
April 26, 2019
Wildcard? More like WildHARD to get through! Because - because this book was so…

Ugh. Okay, picture me sighing in a long-suffering way here. Guys, I can’t just open this review up with a dad joke. Ignore the fact that I just did that, because I can’t do it.

This book is too bad. It is undeserving of even my worst dad joke, one which I came up with after 17 seconds of thought at 1:57 a.m. in a fit of desperate inspiration-seeking in order to start this review.

WE DON’T HAVE TIME FOR SUCH TRIVIALITIES. Because - and you guys might not believe this - this is the first review I’ve ever written where the first draft was too long for Goodreads. Goodreads was like, “No thanks. This is too many thoughts. We’re not interested.”

We’ve got a lot to work through, gang. So you know what that means. We gotta get into some categories.

Also, warning: THIS CONTAINS ALL OF THE SPOILERS. I had way too bad of a time to censor my complaints.


So let me start off by trying to run through this plot, which I barely remember because a) I read this book months ago, for I am a fool, and b) I attempted to purge all this-book-related information from my brain immediately upon completing it.

In the last book, Emika, our useless rainbow-haired protagonist, found out that Hideo, her older/rich/very boring boyfriend, was using his fun ill-defined digital interface as a pretense to install an algorithm into the brains of everyone in the world so no one can do bad stuff ever. But it’s okay because #tragicbackstory: his brother was kidnapped basically in front of him in childhood and now he’s making sure something like that could never happen again, theoretically, kind of.

You know. Normal tech billionaire stuff.

Anyway, Emi, our valiant pointless princess, is all “No!!! I will not allow you!!!” Her main plan at this point seems to be “talking to her friends in seedy karaoke bars,” which is as helpful as you’d expect. Then Zero, this hacker guy who we find out at some point or another is Hideo’s brother (yes, the kidnapped one - gasp, etc., except it’s just as boring as everything else about this book) is like Join Us, Emi. We Shall Take Down Hideo.

Then Emi’s like should I??? I don’t know??? Yes no??? Okay sure. And then that thought continues for a few hundred pages, just with Emi doing other things people tell her to do, until we finally escape the cyclical suffering of this book due to it being over.


The long and short of it is that this book is very pointless and boring, and Emi is very pointless and boring and does not do anything ever for all time.

One of my major complaints with Warcross was that we never really got to see the Warcross gameplay, which was, uh, 100% of the reason I was interested in the book in the first place. Also 100% of the reason I picked this up, because, like a naïve tropical fish (I don’t have an example of a famously naïve thing), I thought it would maybe have more gameplay. Well, maybe all that was just worldbuilding! I thought. Wouldn’t make sense, considering there was no worldbuilding and absolutely every second was a confusing turmoil of reality and digital, but you never know!

You do know, actually. Because we get basically 0 scenes of the actual game.

Like, what is this pacing? I can’t stress enough that we get barely any scenes of Warcross, but we DO get an in-depth description of a game called “speed chess,” which is (checks notes) just chess but fast.

At the most fundamental level, this is poorly constructed. Like when Emi wonders, “Has he been here since that night at the art museum, agonizing over all I’d told him?” Something interesting is that “that night” was THE NIGHT BEFORE. TIME IS SO MEANINGLESS IN THIS BOOK. 20% OF THE BOOK HAS HAPPENED “SINCE THAT NIGHT” BUT ALSO THAT NIGHT WAS STILL LAST NIGHT.

Plus this book is just teeming with dream sequences, which we all know to be a very meaningful and smart way to pull a plot along. Not at all confusing and boring and pointless and lame and clichéd and overdone.

I want to stab this book with a fork.


I often hate characters. This probably comes from a combination of me rarely liking characters, me rarely liking books, and the fact that I am annoyed one hundred percent of the time.

This book is special, though. This book transcended that typical hatred into something much more. Every second I spent reading this book was a second of suffering, and it’s all thanks to our darling protagonist with the rainbow head of hair.

Emi: an on-fire garbage can.

The problem isn’t only that Emi is a boring character - although she absolutely is that. She’s also a terrible hero. As readers, we can forgive unlikable characters for being flawed if they’re still inherently good. Katniss, for example, was a very flawed character, but still solid because she’s badass as hell and has a moral compass to die for.

Emi SUCKS on both those levels. It’d be fine if she were just a hacker/bounty hunter/whatever (except not really, because we’re never given evidence that she’s good at either of these things, but for the sake of the argument let’s pretend this book does at least one thing), if she were still HEROIC. If she cared about protecting the people around her and put their well-being above her own. In short, if she had any kind of selflessness or morality to speak of - but she doesn’t.

Jax, a Hip Cool Assassin With The Name Of A C-Minus Cheese Puff Brand, kills Tremaine, one of Emi’s friends kind of, in front of Emi. It’s Emi’s fault. What does Emi do, when she sees her friend, who was caught in the process of trying to help her, sobbing at gunpoint? Hint: it’s not rush to save him or do a cool trick on the f*cking hoverboard she won’t shut up about or even yell “stop”! Nope. Just “My hands clamp over my mouth to keep me from letting out a cry.” That’s the reaction from our hero character. It’s just the most unbelievable failure to create a compelling narrative in the most Creative Writing 101 way.

But actually, the aforementioned is almost irrelevant, because this book doesn’t have the balls to kill off a character. Even one as bland and pointless as Tremaine. (Because they’re all bland and pointless!! If we started killing off the boring ones, there’d be no one left.) But the thing about Jax fake-shooting Tremaine is that Jax was standing right next to Zero, O Brilliant Creepy Hacker Captain, and Taylor, Creepy Doctor Extraordinaire, when she shot him. And it was supposed to look like she shot him point-blank in the head...but she tells Emi she only “hit [...] Tremaine with a grazing shot to his head.”

So I am supposed to believe the following things occurred: a) Zero and Taylor didn’t notice that the bullet didn’t go through his skull; b) Emi also didn’t notice; c) the guards who picked up and carried away his body didn’t notice or mention anything; d) the wound/amount of blood/etc. were consistent with an actual headshot; e) Tremaine either knew to play dead or was affected in a way that looked like death; f) after the guards took the body away, Jax somehow actually got Tremaine in a car going to the hospital. Right. Also, Emi is in a hallway looking into a room that looks into the room where all this is going down, but later when she’s dramatically whining in her internal monologue about how hard her life is, she says she could smell the blood. Also very logical.

It’s almost unbelievable to me that all of this sloppiness managed to make it into an actual published book. But back to how much I hate Emi.

Another reason she’s an awful character is that she is unable to act for herself. This is bad enough in any action-packed sci-fi book, but it is especially bad in one that has a moral quandary at its core. Emi is simply a cog in the machine of other people’s ideas of morality, which is perhaps the least interesting, challenging, and worthwhile way to take on a topic like this. (Elise puts this, no surprise, v eloquently in her review, which everyone should read.)

But the other thing that makes Emika insufferable, outside of her uselessness, inability to make a decision for herself, and lack of heroism, is that she has the SAME REPETITIVE THOUGHT PROCESSES CONSTANTLY. Here is one of my famous character impressions:

Emika: I just had a huge realization :) telling people things doesn’t put them in danger :o it actually puts them in LESS danger, because they’re aware of the situation they’re in :)

*fifty pages pass*

Emika: “But I don’t tell them about [huge thing that just happened that changes the whole story and book and world and everything except the fact that I personally could not care less about any of it]. I can’t handle the thought of bringing them any closer to real danger.”

Fun! Almost feels like the entire last fifty pages were totally pointless, and the lack of plot progression is mirrored by an utter deficit of character development, leaving all of us in stagnant suffering!!

We love it!!

And then, at the end, Emika thinks, “Maybe I should feel like a hero.” Thanks, Emika’s internal monologue, but that’s a hard no.

Ultimately, despite her performative objections and “I won’t let you do this!!!” grandstanding, it’s clear Emika doesn’t give two sh*ts about the algorithm. Immediately after learning that the algorithm is biased inherently, may become more biased, and is causing large-scale suffering and also DEATH, Emi only has one thing on her mind: “My face is hot now. Hideo has brought me up every day?” Priorities!

So, time for one of the worst parts of this terrible, awful, no-good very bad book.

The romance.



It annoyed me in the last book, but I had no idea it could be this bad. This is the New Moon to Warcross’s Twilight. Yes, the romance was overdone and sentimental and migraine-inducing before, but you had no idea it could get WORSE when you take the hot man away from the girl. Because now, my dear boy, we’ve got moping on our hands.

So much of this book is just moping.

Also, IT IS INSANE THAT EMIKA IS MOPING IN THE FIRST PLACE. The reason she broke up with Hideo is because he was putting TECHNOLOGY in people’s MINDS without their CONSENT to control the ACTIONS of the GLOBAL POPULACE. And still she mopes! If someone says even one (1) thing to me that I am not a fan of, I am over it and mope-free in 0-1 business days. I cannot imagine who I’d have to be to break up with a moral cretin like Hideo and still be like “but his eyes :( when we dated for like a week and a half I enjoyed it :( this is so sad for me :(”

BECAUSE THEY DIDN’T EVEN DATE FOR THAT LONG! At least in Twilight you knew stupid Bella was in love with her shiny bloodsucking man. In Warcross...we get it. He’s hot and rich, sure, but your relationship was like...a second long. I’ve had headaches that lasted longer than you two. The one this book gave me, for example! (Buh dum ch.)

Here’s an example of the type of internal-monologue justification Emi tries to give us for this relationship. “‘He’s done terrible things. And yet I can still sense your connection to him.’ I realize with a start that it’s because Sasuke was never old enough to understand what love really means. [...] how complicated love actually is.” Now correct me if I’m wrong but I didn’t think one of love’s complications was large-scale murder and moral ignorance no longer being so much as a turnoff!!! I had never heard that one before!!!

It’s also just...mushy. Like when Hideo’s advisor (the one whose response to his partial responsibility for thousands of deaths was a shrug) tells him, “For a girl that you claim you don’t care about, that little wild card sure has a grip on you.” And we all say, wow, title! And then we continue, This book is very bad and this scene could not be more contrived or clichéd or cheesy or more C-words (lol) if it were literally titled Twilight But If Twilight Stole The Overarching Concept Of Ready Player One And Mangled It Unbearably.

Let’s talk about that mangling, shall we?


If I had to describe this book in one word, and that word had to be appropriate for children and couldn’t be a conglomeration of curse words I made up on the spot to express my feelings, “sloppy” would be a strong contender.

It’s sloppy at every level. We’ve talked about the weird pacing, the poorly plotted narrative, the malformed hero character, the nonsensical romance. But this book is sloppy at EVERY LEVEL.

It is really, really difficult to write about a world in which most people spend a lot of time within an immersive virtual interface. It is very hard to keep up those lines and make clear exactly where your character is at any given moment. If you don’t do this, your characters, language, worldbuilding, and reader experience will suffer. I don’t think anyone will be surprised at this point to hear that Marie Lu doesn’t even try to keep up this distinction. If the worldbuilding was sh*t in the first one, at least there were traces of attempts. This is just a puddle of confusion and I hated every second of it.

There are so few concrete details about this world and this enemy and Emika’s plan, and then even those are dropped at the dumbass ending that makes no f*cking sense whatsoever OH MY GOD THIS BOOK IS SO SLOPPY!

Even down to this nonsensical statement: “Hideo’s frown deepens, but he doesn’t deny it. ‘This isn’t about here.’” I am SO sorry but did I get the definition for “deny” mixed up? Does it actually mean “ eat a small custard”? Because the exact thing he is doing in that quote is denying.

Let’s talk more about this writing. And the fact that it is very bad.



UGH. This book is just so badly written! In terms of the style, yeah, but also once again in terms of how sloppy it is. At one point, Mari, some lady who is just kind of randomly introduced and might have been in the first book but I surely don’t remember her, says, “I want Kenn to be right, that the suicides don’t have anything to do with the algorithm.” And Hideo responds, “And if it does?”


Basically, so much of this just feels slightly off. The grammar. The pacing. The characterization. The interactions. All of it kind of feels like if an alien was like “yeah sure I can write a YA fantasy. The only question I have is what is that?” And then all the alien-writer was given by way of research materials was New Moon and the synopsis of Ready Player One.

And all of the chapters try to end in cliffhangers, but it just sounds so dumb. Example: “Suddenly, it’s as if I’m hovering on their ceiling, watching them like a ghost.” New paragraph: “And I find myself listening in on a conversation that makes me recoil in horror.” AND THAT’S THE END OF THE CHAPTER. Are you kidding. Marie Lu could have literally typed out the sound effect “dun dun dun” and that wouldn’t seem more garish and overdone.

Later on in the book, at the point which could be called the “climax” if you were feeling generous, though I prefer “apex of garbage-ness,” Emi says Zero took everything from her Warcross account -- her memories, her level, her dope ass weapons - and downloaded them somewhere else. God only knows where!!! Basically in this scenario she’d be a shell of a digital figure, no content. But then she spends the next like 50 pages living through her own memories, “using the bits of memories [she has] left.” To which I say: this book is stupid and sloppy and I hate it!

Time to treat myself to my favorite bit of roast writing.


MY FAVORITE SECTION!! This is the section that has been known in other reviews as “General stupidity,” but that title wouldn’t work here because the whole thing is very stupid. Sad!

Let’s run through em quick, gang. We’ve got a lot of material to cover.

1. When “the latest track from BTS thunders through the speakers.” Uh, sorry. This is a futuristic sci-fi world and the example of music you include is the currently operational band BTS?

2. At one point, Emi claims to be able to see a “telltale prick” on someone’s arm through a distant security camera.

3. When Emi goes to visit Hideo in prison (!!!), she thinks, “It’s as if they’re guarding someone who is the most dangerous criminal in the world.” One, that sentence couldn’t possibly sound more awkward, and two, IT’S BECAUSE THEY ARE DOING THAT!!! That would be why it seems that way!!!

4. Hideo’s court proceedings take place at the Supreme Court of Japan, which has absolutely no basis in the Japanese judicial system whatsoever but is just dandy for the drama.

5. Despite the fact that Hideo is responsible for huge oversteps into the free will of humanity, plus the suicides of thousands, he gets off scot-free. That’s YA for you, baby!

6. Okay, I just...I’m sorry but I don’t think we’re talking enough about how Hammie is the name of a real character in this book. Hammie, you guys. In what world.

7. “Go away. My stomach hurts, and I feel sick.” You know, how we all talk!

8. “They said he’s incredibly lucky the bullet hit the way it did. A tiny bit to the left or right, and he would’ve arrived dead on the scene.” Uh, not how grazing bullets to the head work; also, not what “dead on the scene” means.

9. “Something about the hack colliding with Zero’s mind must have altered my senses, preventing me from being properly connected with him.” That seems so thought out :)

10. Just going to leave this one without comment: “clenched moan”

11. “I yank the door open with all my strength.” Fun fact about Emika: “all her strength” is the exact amount of strength it takes to break a f*cking lock! Oh, we have fun.

12. & the crown jewel: “A few others, women and businessmen alike, wait on the sidelines for their chance to talk to him.” What kind of archaic bullsh*t. Only men can have business inquiries?? The only thing women want to talk to Hideo about is how fast they can get into his pants?? What the f*ck. Like the #1 thing this book had going for it was diversity and representation and then it’s suddenly a sexed-up version of 1949?


Excluding that last quote, this book isn’t extremely f*cked up or problematic or bigoted. There’s a toxic romance, sure, but it’s so far out of the realm of possibility as to be almost fine.

This is just an example of pretty much objectively bad story-writing, and I hate that. It upsets me that there are so many talented writers and people aspiring to be authors who would’ve killed for a publishing deal like this, and Marie Lu got to rush out a poorly done book for a lot of money.

If you like this book, that’s fine. It doesn’t make you a bad person or anything. I just hated it so much it took me 11 pages to put it into words.

There’s my bottom line!!
Profile Image for Miranda Reads.
1,589 reviews155k followers
May 17, 2021

That's the difference between the real and the virtual. Reality is where you can lose the ones you love. Reality is the place where you can feel the cracks in your heart.
Oh. Good. Lawd. What is wrong with her???

To recap - rainbow-haired-tumblr-queen Emika Chen (also hacker-extraordinaire, brilliant strategist, adorably naive in just the right ways) discovered that the guy she's had a crush on (Hideo - dark-haired, emotionally underdeveloped, walking emo stereotype) is actually pretty d*mn evil.

He's created a new (and sinister) algorithm for his NeuroLink (think Virtual Reality but connected to your brain...yeah...worked out just the way you'd expect).

And this new algorithm conveniently takes over the entire world (at least everyone with a NeuorLink) and prevents them from being criminals.
Every problem has a solution. But after every solution, there's a new problem to tackle, some new challenge to take on.
Hideo hides behind a paper-thin moral shield - ohhhh no Emika, I just want to make the world safer - and, like an idiot, Emika returns to his side over and over.
The mind can make you believe whatever it wants you to believe.
Ultimately...we realize there are betrayals around every corner, what seemed black-and-white is actually grey, yadda yadda yadda.
“Am I ever going to see you again?" Hideo asks him. In his voice is his lost self, the boy who grew up with a silver streak of grief in his hair.
Annnnnyway, if you can't already tell...in the terms of hit or miss...this one was a miss. A HUGE miss.


No matter the strange deaths associated with this algorithm - or the complete erasure of free will - Emika's raven-haired prince is super cute, so she decided to just swipe all that under the metaphorical rug.

We run around a lot in this book - someone wants to kill Emika for being too cool (read: overpowered) so we get a Scooby-Doo escque plot.

And the other major thing was Emika constantly trying o convert Hideo back to the "good" side (though, if you're asking me...she really is not taking this murderous side of him seriously).

I really just couldn't get over....well....a lot of things.

Emika trusted everyone too much, which led to some pretty expected betrayals.

Hideo was pretty dang evil, but got away with it because he was pretty.

The big reveal required literal chapters to explain and was more of a burden to piece together than an aha moment.

All in all - I can't believe that I'm never going to get this time back.

YouTube | Blog | Instagram | Twitter | Facebook | Snapchat @miranda_reads
Profile Image for High Lady of The Night Court.
135 reviews5,057 followers
June 23, 2019
“And that's when I realize that, at the end, we'd all wish for the same thing. Just a little more time."

Before I get into my review of this book I figured I’d remind you about what happened in the last book in case you don’t remember, if you do just skip the next paragraph.

Hideo Tanaka created a virtual reality game called Warcross that took the world by storm. Emika Chen hacked the game, but unfortunately was revealed to the world as her hack’s invisibility dropped for a second. Instead of being imprisoned, Hideo offers Emika a job to find out who's trying to sabotage his work. Emika Chen is chosen as the wildcard of the Phoenix Riders and tries to find the culprit while playing the game. Quick recap of the team: Asher is the captain, Hammie is the Thief, Roshan is the Shield, and Emika is the architect. And side note, Tremaine is Roshan’s ex who left the Phoenix Riders a while ago.
Emika finds out that a guy called Zero is the saboteur, and is probably Hideo’s long lost brother who was kidnapped when he was a child. Emika gets to know that Hideo's new NeuroLink lenses are going to be used to control the minds of just about everyone in the world in an attempt to put an end to all crime and bad intentions, Emika is shocked that the man she fell in love with could do such a thing.

This book is nothing like the last one. Warcross was our introduction to this world, Emika Chen, and the underlying plot which was going to drive the second book. But this book, while being driven by that plotline, is so much more in terms of emotion, the past, and heartbreak. We see Asher, Hammie, and Roshan helping Emika figure out what she should do to put an end to Hideo’s algorithm. Emika is reluctant in joining Zero because his means and motive are unclear. In this book we definitely see a lot more of Zero and the people who help him, and they play a huge role in directing this story forward.

Emika, the Phoenix Riders, Zero, and anyone who is not under Hideo’s control are only being able to do so because they still use the beta lenses and haven’t shifted to the new ones. But while they presently retain their freedom, it won't last for long unless they figure out how to destroy the algorithm before the final day of the Warcross closing ceremony because on that day the beta lenses too will be patched into the algorithm.

Emika struggles with her feelings for Hideo and wants to convince him to put an end to his algorithm. Neither of them are over each other. Tremaine plays a slightly bigger role in this book than the last one and we find out why he left the Phoenix Riders. We learn a few new things about Roshan’s family and his past with Tremaine. And there's not much more to say that doesn’t spoil the book.

The characters are amazing and are perfect for the roles they play in the story. The plot moves forward steadily as each chapter reveals a little more information about the plot that we didn't already know from Warcross. Despite being spread out so evenly I must say chapter 20 has emotionally scarred me for life, that chapter is just too much to handle and everything just hits you ten times harder than you expected it too. Chapter 32 was pretty bad too but nothing beats 20.

Wildcard moved forward in ways I didn't anticipate at all. When I finished Warcross I had pictured this book going in a certain direction, which was pretty obvious to anyone who read Warcross, but this blew my expectations out of the water and didn't fail to surprise me.
The ending, especially, made me extremely happy because I felt like Marie Lu could have taken this story to much grey-er, sadder finish, but while every single word was jam packed with emotion the ending provides a ‘ and this world shall move on’ sort of feel which I loved.

So far, I have read Marie Lu’s The Young Elites and loved it with all my heart and after reading these books I'm convinced she can do no wrong. If you haven't read Wildcard yet I'm telling you that you have to read it. Its is a beautiful conclusion to a mindblowing world and I hope all of you enjoy it as much as I did. Just keep in mind that people can have ulterior motives, there's a lot of betrayal, and a few shocking revelations along the way. I give this book 5 stars and wouldn't change a single thing about it.

”It's always easier to destroy than create.”
Profile Image for Virginia Ronan ♥ Herondale ♥.
531 reviews34.5k followers
September 16, 2020
”Everything became amazing; then, everything turned awful. Life is always like that – you don’t know when you’ll suddenly claw your way out of your circumstances, or when you’ll go crashing back down into them.”

As it seems I’m the odd one out when it comes to this series. When I read the first book I wasn’t all too impressed and only gave it 3,5 stars - which isn’t necessarily a bad rating but definitely far away from the all-consuming amazing 5 stars I hoped “Warcross” would be - because there were a few things I didn’t like. In my mind I couldn’t help but compare it to “Ready Player One” and if you ask me there were quite some similarities as well. So, yes, as I already wrote in my review, the first book just didn’t do it for me.

”Hey, no judgment from me. I’m a hunter, too; I get it.” He smiles a little. “Besides. We also get into this sort of stuff for the thrill of it, don’t we? I don’t think I’ll ever get a shot at this big of a conspiracy again.”

So what changed?! Well for one there was more focus on the actual plot and not only on the love story between the MCs. Don’t get me wrong, the complicated love stories are still a part of this book but this time around they took a backseat and only helped to enhanced the character’s inner conflicts. And because of this “Wildcard” was way more interesting for me than “Warcross” ever was. I kept thirsting for deep characters and their conflicts when I read the first book – the typical Marie Lu attribute – but all I got were characters with a potential that was never fully explored.

”I refuse to believe that he’s nothing more than a monster. I can’t watch him sink like this. I keep going because I need to find that boy again, the beating heart buried underneath his lie. I have to stop him in order to save him.”

“Wildcard” however was totally different. Some of my fellow reviewers said that it was miles away from the first book and I’m inclined to agree. Whilst this disappointed many of the “Warcross” readers, I can’t say the same about my own experience, though. Quite the contrary, I actually found myself enjoying the change of pacing and mood. This was exactly what I initially signed up for when I began to read the first book so it’s no wonder I ended up liking this way more than its predecessor. ;-)

The characters finally had more depth to them. Their inner conflicts, family dynamics and various motives were addressed and it helped me to understand them better. Also new intriguing characters made an appearance and I was so ready to find out more about their background stories. XD The mystery that surrounded Zero and his allies was just too tempting to resist and before I even knew it, I was already absorbed in the book.

”Nothing commands authority like a professional killer, and no killer surprises someone more than a young girl.”

This said, I really loved Jax and Zero! Those two characters were so interesting and contradictory and definitely managed to give this book quite a unique twist. ;-) And speaking of characters, I also enjoyed that Hideo’s motives were explored and that we finally got to see more of his other facets.

One of the biggest surprises was how much I started to like Tremaine, though! I didn’t expect his character to grow on me so much, but I really loved that boy and I couldn’t help but ship him with Roshan! I know they weren’t together but that didn’t stop me from hoping they’d get a second chance. *lol* Same goes for Emika and Hideo. ;-)

”You don’t owe Hideo anything,” he says softly. “You did what you were hired to do. It’s not your responsibility to dig deeper into this – into Zero’s past or what happened between him and Hideo or even what he plans on doing to Hideo.”

And this brings me right to my three spoilers that focus on some of the relationships:


After reading “Warcross” I was really sceptical if I’d like this book or not. Funnily enough I actually ended up enjoying it even more than its predecessor. *lol* I know that probably makes me an odd duck but for me this was the Marie Lu I’m used to and I relished every second of it. In contrast to the first book there were quite some twists and turns I didn’t expect and this only added to my enjoyment, as did the growth of the characters and the discovery of their motives. All told this was a really great book and I’m glad I decided to give it a chance! =)


I never thought I’d say this, but I actually liked this way more than I liked “Warcross”?! O_o
Yes, believe me; no one is more surprised about this than I am. XD

I mean I liked the first book well enough, but I had some minor issues with it that sort of forced me to give it 3,5 stars. So what changed? Mhmm....

I’ll tell you when I found out?! ;-P
(that’s how you turn your review into a cliffhanger *lol*)

Full RTC soon! Stay tuned! XD

I enjoyed the first book even though I kind of saw the ending coming and of course I want to know how this is going to continue.
So naturally I borrowed this from my library (when it was still open).

I can’t help but wonder if I’ll like this though. The few reviews I read weren’t all that enthusiastic and this is putting it mildly. *lol*

Well, anyway! I’m going to read this and I’m going to finish this series. If I come out of it liking “Wildcard” that’s great if I end up not liking it, I at least finished the series. (this is a duology, right? XD)
So basically it’s a win-win situation either way. ;-)

Let’s start with this! *rolls up sleeves*

P.S: Is it just me or does the cover actually look a little bit sinister? XD
Profile Image for Brittney ~ Reverie and Ink.
259 reviews4,895 followers
September 10, 2018
I was SO nervous going into this, but Marie Lu did not disappoint.

The story picks up shortly after where Warcross left off - and to be completely honest, if it's been a while since you've read Warcross, I'd recommend either rereading or refreshing yourself on the characters. I didn't, and I kept forgetting who was who in terms of the Pheonix Riders/etc (I know, I'm terrible). With that said, I had a * little * bit of a struggle in the first 20-ish percent - it wasn't that the pacing was slow, I think my brain was just trying to catch up.

Obviously, spoilers for book one, so read the below at your own risk!

With the algorithm in place, and Hideo basically controlling everyone (why is this so appealing? lol) - Emika knows she needs to do SOMETHING, and Zero is trying to convince her to work alongside him to stop his brother. But there lies a bigger problem: Emika suuuuper does not trust Zero. Only... it turns out... someone tries to kill her, so Zero to the rescue - wahoo! And then the plot takes off, and things get nuts, and the last half - let me tell you - is non stop action. Like, hello, I am still gasping for air.

But I can't say much more without revealing important plot details that I think should be a surprise - and I assure you, the surprises are MANY. Marie Lu can write some damn twists. Instead, I'll just hint at some tidbits that I know everyone is DYING to know about - without giving anything away.

1. Do Hideo and Emika get screentime together (because let's face it, most of us still shipped them after book two)?
Oh yeah. Ohhhh yeah. Yep. Yes. Their moments miiiight have been the best part of the book.

2. Do we get more information on Zero?
Chyeah we do. Oh my gosh. THIS. I can't. I can't. My heartstrings - I think Marie stole them. As an author, she's always been SO strong at character depth and emotion, and she doesn't disappoint here. Zero and his story heighten the plot to a new level, and what you'll learn is a game changer. And no, I doubt you'll be able to guess any of it.

3. More Warcross games?
Heck yes. Though, again, this is where a refresher from book one would help, because I couldn't help but feel a bit lost at times. I couldn't remember how they worked. Either way, they were fun though!

All in all, this was a fantastic end to Emika's story. I was SUPER worried because I thought there was no way this could end in a way that was satisfying. And while I can't say much about the end, I'll say I think Marie Lu did it justice - spinning it in ways I couldn't have predicted. I mean, my heart is punctured a little, but that's to be expected (and no, not in the way you think).

Lastly, I have to comment on the writing, because ahhhh HOW IS SHE SO GOOD. Also, If you haven't picked up Marie's other series, Legend, you're missing out!

My Blog ~ Instagram ~ Twitter
Profile Image for Elle (ellexamines).
1,084 reviews17.5k followers
September 30, 2018
I always forget this about myself: if I don’t love the characters of a series’ opening book, I should not read the sequel to said book. Even if I loved the ending. Even if I gave it the fairly solid rating 3 1/2. That is not how I work.

Okay, so here’s a basic summary of this series: a premise about video games gets somewhat underused but in a fun way. None of the characters are particularly interesting, but I guess they’re compelling enough for a YA sci-fi. Marie Lu is a compulsively readable author and very easy to connect with. And then this book fucks up a perfectly good thing by removing any sort of agency from the main character, which is not a good way to make a narrative compelling and I, as someone who literally has a mention of my love for narrative agency in my Goodreads bio, am not pleased.

anyway, read The Young Elites instead. at least the cover for those are better!! also, they’re really good!!
Profile Image for jessica.
2,534 reviews32.5k followers
October 10, 2018
i completely and wholeheartedly judge books based on their covers. i am not ashamed of that fact because there are some really ugly covers out there. so when the cover for this was released, i was scared. not going to lie - i was not a fan. but after reading this, i totally get it. it perfectly matches the dark and emotional vibes of this part of the story. theres a lot of darknet and blackweb dealings going on in this book and the cover captures the essence of that really well. i feel bad that i misjudged, but hey, it happens.

in regards to the story, this felt really different from warcross. not better, not worse. just different. warcross had a very adventurous and light quality to the story as it built a world around glamorous interactive gaming tournaments. but with wildcard, we saw the very dark side to technology and how it could be used for ill intentions. both are two sides of the same coin - you cant have one without the other. so even though this wasnt quite as carefree as warcross, i thought this was still a really interesting and necessary story. i thought hideos character development coming full circle was really fulfilling and satisfying to read. a little sad, but i feel very content with the way things ended.

and on the note of endings, apparently this is only a duology?! marie lu is the queen of trilogies, so i feel somewhat cheated out of a book. i am not okay with this. lol.

3.5 stars
Profile Image for Angelica.
805 reviews1,127 followers
April 14, 2020
Well, that was hella disappointing.

After reading this book I had to and reread my Warcross review. Not because I didn't remember if I had liked the original novel. But because I didn't remember if I had always thought Emika to be so bland, stupid, and annoying. She was certainly all of these things in this book.

In the previous book, Emika was an active and interesting character. In this one, she is little more than an observer while other people actually get things done. She asks a lot of questions and eavesdrops on a lot of conversations and watches a lot of videos of other people doing things. And that's pretty much it. She's more a narrator than an actual character and I couldn't stand it!

I prefer character driven works to all others. This isn't one of those books. Emika is such a weak character in this one that it's actually kind of sad to read about. Her relationship with Hideo was kind of annoying as she completely let go of common sense for the sake of a guy she knew for a few weeks. She also behaves in extremely naive ways, trusting everyone and making dumb choices.

All of that said, this book did have some good parts, namely, Emika's team. I liked that we got to see some depth to them and were able to watch their interactions. Honestly, they were more interesting than Emika, especially  Tremaine and Roshan, and I would much rather read their stories instead.

Another thing that this book did well was the mystery of Sasuke's disappearance. There was one plot twist in particular that made me put the book down and rethink everything I had just read. I have to give it to Marie Lu, that was certainly creative and clever. Sadly, that wasn't enough to make me love this.

Overall, I think the book was kind of bland. It did have its amazingly clever moments and wonderful plot twists, but the characters themselves just couldn't seem to shine through. So, do I recommend it? Sure? If you absolutely loved Warcross then you might like this one. If Warcross just wasn't your thing, then maybe leave this one be.

My review for book one: HERE
Profile Image for Hamad.
1,009 reviews1,329 followers
September 24, 2018
This review and other non-spoilery reviews can be found @The Book Prescription

“Every problem has a solution. But after every solution, there’s a new problem to tackle, some new challenge to take on.”

🌟 If you know me well, then by this point you should already know 2 things: I love Marie Lu, I have read all her 9 books and I own 7 of them. And you also should know that I separate authors from their works, meaning that I won’t like a certain book just because it is by a certain author.

🌟 This book has been divided people into either loving or hating it. I fall somewhere in the middle as I can see why either party will do so.

🌟 I think the main problem with this is that I didn’t feel that it was a continuation of Warcross. And while Warcross had a few tiny problems for me, I still liked it! The world-exploration there and the tournament and the characters all added up to the story. But in Wildcard, I didn’t feel this spark and connection. I think there was more focus on the plot which was agonizingly predictable. I said in my review of Warcross that Lu style is predictable for me but is still enjoyable. Take out those things that made me pleasant and we’re left with an expected story set in a dull world and flat characters.

🌟 Speaking of characters, Emika was a prodigy in book 1 and she was good at many things. In this book, I sensed that she was “normal” and like a different character from what we originally knew. She lost the sassiness and smartness and became un-likeable. I said that Marie should try to write “non-prodigal” characters but I think that is what she does best.

🌟 I liked the moral questions that this book throws around: What do you think of using humans for experiments? Obviously everyone would say they are against it but did you know that much of the medical revolution we have today is due to experimenting on humans post WW2 specially.
What about making something that can control human behavior toward “ideality”, decreasing crimes and wars and negativity?
I really like to think about those types of questions and this provoked this kind of thinking, that’s why it was still a good book.(That could have been better).

🌟 Summary: I think that this book should be approached differently than book 1 and with lower expectations, it had less world building, less interesting characters and a slower pace but it also provided good ethical and moral questions. It may be enjoyable for some and won’t definitely be by others. I am however still reading Lu’s future releases as she is def a great author! I ended up giving it 3 out of 5 stars!
Profile Image for emily .
241 reviews2,107 followers
October 5, 2018
literally all i want to do right now is lie facedown on the ground and contemplate over what the actual fuckhell i did to deserve this. @god say it to my face bitch

every time i read a terrible book i feel like i'm being fucked over twice, because not only do i have to 1) read the damn thing, i also have to 2) review it and go through the whole disaster again. good thing i've been practicing burning self-hatred for 20 years now in order to prepare myself for situations like this 🤠👉🏼

i don't think you have any idea how much it actually pains me to look at my own rating. it breaks my little heart into a million tiny pieces.
i read warcross back in january, and it became an instant favorite. i remember it being so addictive, so easy to read. it was the thing that my inner nerd desired. and it was what she deserved.

and now i can't even correlate warcross with wildcard, like someone tell me why these books seem to take place in two entirely disparate universes??

but, let me start at the beginning:

the core, the whole idea of warcross, to me, was brilliant. it was exciting and thrilling and absolutely terrifying: virtual reality advancing even farther than we can imagine in this day and age. marie lu created something that i loved. the warcross matches were the first thing that i could compare to quidditch in terms of "oh my god i love this i want to be a part of this please give me 398 pages of only this". and that was where i went wrong. apparently.

because marie lu had a completely different idea for the series. the original idea of warcross slowly perished under whatever it is that wildcard was trying to be. she felt the need to turn it into something that i couldn't identify anymore.

and this is where i have to put my !!!!!!!!! SPOILER WARNING !!!!!!!!!

i'm about to get real petty so i suggest you better RUN (all the issues i had with this book: in notes):

• this went from the idea of a VR world to an AI trying to take over humanity, somehow
• ummm???
• literally nobody asked for this
• can i just enjoy my fighting robot dragons in peace
• i feel like a lot of the actions that were happening didn't even make sense
• marie lu was literally just throwing plot twist after plot twist at us, trying to make something great out of something that was already enough. and ruined it with that
• please all i want is one goddamn game of warcross.... isn't that what i signed up for?
• stop the redemption arc trope i'm begging to all gods
• emika going back to hideo (a #confirmed murderer) literally gave me the fucking rest
• HE MIND CONTROLLED THE WHOLE ENTIRE WORLD??? and when confronted with that he was legit like "y'all hear sum?"
• at least feel a LITTLe bit bad about yourself
• did anybody even really like hideo? genuine question
• is hideo short for hideous
• emika was so stale in this whole entire thing really
• i was bored during a solid 20% of the book. which doesn't sound like a lot but BOI IT IS i tried so hard not to skim
• where are my team dynamics? i literally only asked for one (1) thing
• not enough Asher
• again: the original idea of the warcross games literally went out the window
• do i even have to talk about Zero
• god i'm so pissed
• at least make it gayer
• everything is messy messy messy i have a headache just thinking about the last 100 pages
• why
• god why
• it felt like marie lu had some good ideas but she didn't execute them well enough
• and all at once
• nothing made sense

and that's that on that, folks. the sad thing? i actually really liked the first half of the book. and i was so ready to love this book with all of my shriveled up tired soul.

wildcard ruined warcross for me. and that's the tea for today! thanks for tuning in.

⦁ buddy read with miss may, gianna & marami
Profile Image for Reynita ★ The Night Reader ★.
123 reviews940 followers
January 1, 2019
Warcross: ★★★★☆ my review
Wildcard : ★★★★☆


When the world is murky, guide yourself with your own steady light.

Finally! I can review this book, I was busy with college assignments and I even barely had time to read, but thankfully I've done mostly all of my assignments and I'm a bit free! YAY! But I'm going to have final exams in a few weeks, so maybe I'll get inactive when I have my final exams but I'll be back again! :)

My opinion time!

I read Warcross a year ago and omg that book was really good. It was action-packed and then the world, the technology, basically everything in Warcross was very good and it also hit a little bit close to home for me. I shed a few tears. Warcross was a great read for me.

I swear I was so nervous and afraid when I read Wildcard because I really liked Warcross and I was afraid that this book would disappointed me because usually when I have high expectations of a book, then the book let me down later on. However, that did not happen to me with this book. Well, yeah the book was pretty slow at first but it never bored me and I always agreed with Emika. Like I don't even know how that's even possible that I agreed with her with every of her decisions.

Emika was such a strong and fierce character and it was always easy for me to like her. Emika was not the only great character in this book, the other characters were also great and they even made me laugh and the friendship in this book was honestly so sweet! they supported each other and helped each other. To be honest, I even felt a twinge of jealousy because I also want to have this kind of friendship in my real life. *sighs*

and there was this certain characters ( I'm not gonna tell you you who this character was because it would be a spoiler, if did tell you ) So this certain character caused me pain. Like so much pain, my eyes got really teary and I couldn't hold back my tears anymore and the only thing I wanted do was to hold this character and sob.


and OH MY GOD this book! this book messed with my mind. There were moments where I just clutched my hair and read the book as fast as possible because I needed to know what's next and next and there was also a moment where I just felt like my heart was cracking slowly and my eyes were teary and I was so sad. This book made me feel a lot of emotions, happy, sad, relieved, anger and many more. Wow. I really liked this book.

Wildcard was good but I also feel that it was not as good as Warcross. I mean Warcross was a pretty fun read for me but Wildcard was darker than what I expected and I liked it but ... I don't know there's something that I cannot explain because I don't even know it myself but for me Warcross was slightly better than Wildcard. But Wildcard was still good though. It was such good read for me.

Thank you very much for reading and liking this review. I appreciate it so much guys and I hope you all have an amazing day! ❤❤




I'm currently reading this book, which I've been so excited and curious about since I finished reading Warcross. I AM SO READY TO FEEL ALL THE EMOTIONS. AHHHH. Please don't disappoint me book!

I also have a crush on Hideo! He's so 😍💓 honestly where can I find a guy like him in my real life? Lol 😂

Profile Image for Ashley Nuckles.
190 reviews7,251 followers
June 17, 2018
THIS WAS SO FRICKEN GOOD! Such a great ending that wrapped everything up so perfectly! While I didn’t read it in one sitting like I did Warcross, I still enjoyed every second of it, and Marie Lu continued to blow my mind all through the second book :)
Profile Image for Hilly.
701 reviews1,262 followers
January 8, 2019
4.5 stars

I am deceased.
If you see me cry it’s not because of this book or that ending. Nope.

What a ride. This conclusion was really different from the first book and I didn't mind at all. Welcome unpredictable, fast-paced and action-packed narrative, and welcome to my new attraction to Zero.

He leans back against the wall, his arms crossed casually over his chest, one of his leg propped against the other. His face is no longer hidden behind a black helmet, and instead of his armor, he's wearing a simple black sweater and dark pants, his shoes polished to a shine. But his mannerisms are unmistakable to me.
One side of his mouth tilts up in a smile. "Well, Emika," says Zero. "Welcome."

This was his book, it's as simple as that. And all the twists and turns made me care about him more and more. I could say I like him almost as much as I like Hideo but I guess that's not possible, right? Hideo is... *sighs* Every time he was mentioned I fangirled.
That yacht scene? The feels! And that's why I'm still single.

I think back to the piercing gaze he’d given me during our last meeting. Underneath that had been fear, all along. “You told me you never wanted to see me again,” I manage to say.
His voice is low and raw. “Because every time I see you, it takes everything in me to turn away.”

I loved the plot of this book more than the first one! Warcross was more predictable because of the championships, but this one strays totally away from them and gives attention to what is actually the duology core conflict.

How will I cope without a new book in this series? How will I cope without Hideo?


Update #9


Update #8


Update #7

You know you’re trash for a character when you read a simple quote of them talking for about 3 seconds and you squeal like you’ve just been gifted a ticket to the Wizarding World of Harry Potter.


Update #6


Update #5

That moment when you see all these people with Wildcard arcs and you die a little inside.

Update #4

I admit I was confused at first and didn’t really like the cover. But as it happened with the Warcross one, after looking at it for a bit I’m seriously so happy about this cover! I guess both covers just are not my style but I can see where they’re coming from and I appreciate them so much.
This cover totally SCREAMS HIDEO and I’m HERE FOR IT!!!
(It probably also refers to Zero but this girl is blind when it comes to this series and can only see Hideo everywhere. Sorry not sorry)

Update #3


Update #2



I don’t know why I’m hyperventilating because it’s so simple and I don’t understand why I didn’t think about it in the first place, but I am. Hyperventilating I mean.
Wake me up when we have a cover. Or on September 18. Because the wait will kill me if I think too much about how badly I want to read this book right now.

Update #1

Definitely a title!! I can’t guess so I’m waiting for the reveal tomorrow :D
GameOver would be AMAZING tho.

Update #0

IS IT MONDAY YET?? I WANT TO KNOW WHAT WE GET! Title? Official publication date?? Cover???

Profile Image for ♛ may.
806 reviews3,798 followers
October 5, 2018
y'all this book was a Ride

- this book takes place right after the ending of the first book, so its very easy to get back into
- it definitely didn't take the turn i was expecting it to take
- zero's character was fantastic, it was probably one of the best qualities of the book. the way his character arc-ed was so interesting
- i think a lot of people didnt enjoy the book for this reason but we dont get to see much (or any, really) of the game of warcross, its a lot more of the inner-working of the algorithm and experimentation and progressions in medicine and technology
- which isnt a BAD thing, i enjoyed a lot of the discussions on the ethics of what was happening
- but i do wish we got to see a bit more of the game
- they definitely were the cherry on the cake bc they were pure and loveable and every precious in the world
- the plot twists my man
- got me shook like 14 times
- that is to say, its definitely darker than book 1
- am i a sucker for tragic backstories related to family??? why yes, i am
- i still ship hideo and emi like ???? dont ask me why, i cant answer myself
- my interest dwindled a few times, i feel like we got too caught up in the intricacies of the algorithm and im not a science nerd so it kinda just flew over my head :))
- and like really i was just here for the forbidden romance and tragic backstories and babies who need wrapping in warm blankets that came right out of the dryer
- emika is still my queen, lets establish that
- to conclude: a solid 👌

buddy read with hayati, my life, & mein Leben
Profile Image for Larry H.
2,484 reviews29.4k followers
September 29, 2018
I'm between 4 and 4.5 stars.

Wildcard represents the third series of Marie Lu's I've read to completion, and once again, I am amazed at her talent at building complex, compelling settings and creating characters you empathize with (as well as some you root against). Sure, sometimes the plots get a little bit technical or complicated, but at their core, Lu's books are about human connection, and we can all use a little more of that.

"When the world is murky, guide yourself with your own steady light."

A lot has changed for Emika Chen in a short period of time. It seems like only yesterday she was on the verge of eviction from her NYC apartment, working as a bounty hunter to make ends meet. But when she accidentally hacked into the world-renowned Warcross Championships, she was summoned to Japan, where she became immersed in the virtual world of Warcross; became a celebrity in her own right; got to meet her childhood hero, Hideo Tanaka, who created Warcross; and found herself a target in a plot she didn't quite understand.

As her relationship with Hideo grew closer, she discovered that he was using the NeuroLink algorithm not just as a way for people to get information, and as a way to harness technology for good, but he was using it for nefarious (although understandable) purposes as well. The one person she trusted more than anything has betrayed her, she's being hunted down by assassins who want her dead for somehow affecting the last Warcross Championships, and she's being courted by the dangerous and mysterious Zero and his group of anarchists.

Although Zero had proved a threat to Emika and her friends in the past, now he wants to partner with her to accomplish what she wants—to disable the NeuroLink algorithm, which now has countless citizens in its thrall. To do so, however, means crossing Hideo, and destroying what he has spent his life building. But how much can she trust Zero and his cohorts? What effect will her actions have on her life, Hideo, her friends, and the world? She discovers the truth to be a more tangled web than even she is able to solve, and she needs to figure out whom she can trust—fast.

If you didn't read Warcross , the first book in this series (read my review), the above plot summary probably reads like Greek to you, but suffice it to say, this book is just as fascinating—and perhaps ultimately richer in emotion—than its predecessor. I've tried to keep the description fairly brief because there are a lot of twists and turns and double crosses, some I saw coming, some I didn't.

Lu's talent first shows itself in her imagery, which is so evocative at times you can almost see the book playing itself out in your mind's eye. But as you get deeper into Wildcard you realize how well drawn the characters are, even those in supporting roles, like Emika's Warcross teammates, and you find yourself racing through the book, eager to know how things will unfold.

This book didn't fully capture its predecessor's magic; there were times when the plot dragged a little or got a little too mired in complexity, but ultimately, Lu's storytelling drew me back in fairly quickly. I didn't realize this was the second of a two-book series until I was nearly done with it, which saved me from the usual dilemma of do I read it quickly or do I savor it, but I'm sad it's over, although I'm hoping Lu's next series will be related to this one.

I know the subject matter will rule this book out for some, but if the story intrigues you, I'd encourage you to pick up Warcross first, and let yourself get immersed in this world Marie Lu has created. Hopefully you'll find it as compelling and crazy a ride as I did!

See all of my reviews at itseithersadnessoreuphoria.blogspot.com, or check out my list of the best books I read in 2017 at https://itseithersadnessoreuphoria.blogspot.com/2018/01/the-best-books-i-read-in-2017.html.
Profile Image for Stacee.
2,710 reviews701 followers
August 16, 2018
I went into this one without a refresher on Warcross, but found that I didn’t quite need it. It was easy to slip back into this series and I was eager to settle in and see what happened...but I wasn’t even close to being ready.

Emika is still an awesome MC. She’s strong and loyal and I loved how she is compelled to do the right thing, no matter how dangerous. Of course there are some of the same characters from Warcross, but I won’t mention anything there.

Plot wise, I didn’t know what to expect and I was blown away. It’s a slow delicious peel back of reveals and I was captivated the entire time. Yes, I’m being vague on purpose because spoilers.

Overall, this series has been intriguing from the start and this ending was everything I could have wanted and a few things I didn’t know I needed.

**Huge thanks to GP Putnam’s Sons Books for Young Readers for providing the arc free of charge**
Profile Image for Camile Souza (This Chamber of Books).
162 reviews873 followers
Want to read
September 19, 2018
Ahhhhhhh the time has come! Wildcard is finally out, but I can't pick it up just yet because life isn't about what we want :(

I'll have to wait a few more days, so I really hope this book don't disappoint me. I'm already hurt from having to wait so damn long for this. Be good book, please be good.


Okay, so I've been seeing not so great reviews for this and I'm oficially scared. Pls don't hurt me by being bad, book. PLEASE.


So apparently I have a hate-to-love relationship with the covers for this series lol

Ain't love a funny thing? When I first saw them, let me tell ya, I was not a fan, but I like book one so much that it makes me believe I actually like both covers now haha

September is not near enough, gimme Wildcard nooow!
Profile Image for alexandra.
229 reviews1,505 followers
September 3, 2020
this review was originally posted on twirling pages

Wildcard was WILD.

Warcross was one of my favorite books of last year, so i (obviously) had high hopes for Wildcard. but i was also really worried i'd be disappointed. spoiler alert: I HAD NOTHING TO FEAR (aka it was fantastic). all the things i loved about Warcross came through in the sequel, while also maintaining ~suspense~ and ~mystery~. Wildcard is definitely a darker book compared to Warcross, but it's one of the things that made me love it more. it felt like a "slytherin" type of novel (and the cover is green and black so!!!).

warning: spoilers for warcross!! if you haven't read the first book, don't read the review for the second book.

we begin the novel almost directly after the end of Warcross. the big reveal makes us wonder who Zero really is and what's his story. naturally, he (and the rest of his gang) become a big part of Wildcard and I WAS HERE FOR THIS. their gang, the Blackcoats, are so ruthless and so cool. i mentioned earlier about how Wildcard is super ~dark~ but the Blackcoats are a big reason why. i loved all the new characters and their stories. although a lot of it is completely new, it ties together with Warcross really naturally.

"Every locked door has a key.

the parallels between Warcross and Wildcard!!!! i scream. i'm obsessed with authors who do little things with their series that tie it all together; MARIE LU PRESENTED IT WITH A BOW. i actually didn't fully realize until i went back to reread parts of Warcross, but UGH. i have a lot of feelings. but. i do wish i noticed these things the first time around. i feel like i would enjoy this duology so much more if i'd read both books in one sitting. regardless, i now officially prefer duologies to series/trilogies/standalones. they're so wonderful??

the one issue i have with Wildcard probably has more to do with myself than anything else. i forgot a lot of details in Warcross, which made me kind of confused while reading Wildcard. (duh) for example, a lot of the side characters and relationships were completely wiped from my brain (sorry, characters!). like i mentioned earlier, i think i would've enjoyed this book so much more if i'd read it immediately after finishing, instead of a year later. i know Mare Lu probably intended the reader to experience it that way, but she could've done a better job at refreshing my memory. (but i blame my memory!!! ugh) now i want to reread both books.

the thing we, as readers, are most worried for is the ending of a series. personally, i was even more worried than usual because i felt UGH about Legend's ending and didn't bother reading The Young Elites' ending (both of Marie Lu's previous series). i love her books, but am usually frustrated at her endings – mostly because of what she does to characters. PROTECT MY KIDS PLS. i don't want to spoil anything but WILDCARD IS A PERFECT CONCLUSION. it ends so cohesively!! it's so subtle and allows you to imagine a world for the characters beyond the pages!! i'm so happy with it, i could cry!!!

in conclusion, Warcross/Wildcard is amazing. this is one of my favorite duologies. it's action-packed, carefully complex, and fast-paced; it's been a while since a read a book in one sitting and i couldn't put this one down. i'm in love with the world and how it seems too possible. i love all the characters and their relationships (and how they diversely represent different cultures and sexualities). i'm too obsessed.

note: gallery photos belong to their respectful owners. i found them on weheartit and created a mood board of my loves.
Profile Image for Sandra.
378 reviews16 followers
September 22, 2018
Haven't even read the first book but I already want this too. It's just the Marie Lu effect on me: I always need more and more and more.

Profile Image for N..
152 reviews314 followers
Want to read
May 15, 2018
*reads the synopsis*

"But Emika soon learns that Zero isn't all that he seems--and his protection comes at a price."


757 reviews2,345 followers
Want to read
October 2, 2018
time to have my soul crushed so crush my soul, Marie Lu, thank u.

(ok but deadass all I've seen are negative reviews and i am fucking TERRIFIED)

buddy read with the one and only Maggy
Profile Image for NickReads.
461 reviews1,199 followers
Want to read
October 16, 2018
I haven't read the first one yet I am so excited for this.
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