Book Review: Warcross by Marie Lu

Warcross by Marie Lu

Posted April 9, 2021 by Amber in Reviews / 2 Comments



by Marie Lu

Series: Warcross #1
Publisher: G.P. Putnam's Sons on September 12, 2017
Genre: Science Fiction
Target Age Group: Young Adult
Representation: Asian, BIPOC, Disability, Own Voices Author
Content Warnings: Addiction, Death of Parent

Rating: ★★★½

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The obsession started ten years ago and its fan base now spans the globe, some eager to escape from reality and others hoping to make a profit. Struggling to make ends meet, teenage hacker Emika Chen works as a bounty hunter, tracking down Warcross players who bet on the game illegally. But the bounty hunting world is a competitive one, and survival has not been easy. To make some quick cash, Emika takes a risk and hacks into the opening game of the international Warcross Championships—only to accidentally glitch herself into the action and become an overnight sensation.

Convinced she’s going to be arrested, Emika is shocked when instead she gets a call from the game’s creator, the elusive young billionaire Hideo Tanaka, with an irresistible offer. He needs a spy on the inside of this year’s tournament in order to uncover a security problem . . . and he wants Emika for the job. With no time to lose, Emika’s whisked off to Tokyo and thrust into a world of fame and fortune that she’s only dreamed of. But soon her investigation uncovers a sinister plot, with major consequences for the entire Warcross empire.


I both really enjoyed and was disappointed by Warcross.

I like video game related books.  I was excited to pick up Warcross and it’s been on my TBR wishlist for a while.  The world, the backstory, the tech?  It’s all on point.  I really liked it.  You know what I didn’t like?  The romance.

I can’t talk about the romance too much because it would be a spoiler BUT I will say that there was an emotional relationship between Emi and the individual that would have motivation her actions well enough without adding a romantic relationship to the mix.  Particularly one that I didn’t believe for a moment.  Between the length of time the book covers, the difference in social classes, and the difference of power, I had a lot of problems with the romance.

The romance took valuable time away that Emi could have spent with her Warcross team.  I would have loved to get to know the Phoenixes better  at the surface, they were far more interesting than another recycled love story.

Lu builds a couple levels of plot in Warcross.  There are various things at stake – the competition, Emika’s survival both physically and economically, completing her bounty.  From the very beginning of the book, while Lu is still revealing Emi’s character, there are established relationships. While the world isn’t as interesting, the time we have in New York has the best characterization because it wasn’t just… tossed aside.  Her separate worlds are interesting, both in Warcross and Emi’s personal experience.  This world is well-developed and interesting.

Listen, as a whole, I enjoyed the book.  I’m really really hoping that book two steps down the romance instead of focusing on Emi being morally torn.  I’ll read Wild Card.  But every time the romantic scenes came up, I kept thinking to myself… “This!  This is why I dislike the way romance overrules the plot!!!”.

Really the plot was interesting, the tech was fabulous.  The turn of a dystopian world is always great.  I’m just super bothered by the romance.  I’ll get over it.

Ratings Breakdown

Setting: ★★★★★
Plot: ★★★★
Characters: ★★★
Writing: ★★★
Pacing: ★★★
Narrator: ★★★★
Personal Enjoyment: ★★★ 1/2

three and a half star rating


Do you agree that the relationship in this book was unbalanced and frustrating? Just me?  Am I super wrong and you loved it?  Let me know in the comments!

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2 responses to “Warcross by Marie Lu

    • Amber

      You know, even after I wrote this review, the romance and the missed opportunities kept weighing on me. I have a more in-depth discussion scheduled on this for June because I just… ugh. So disappointing. This book had *everything* and went “nah lets have a ridiculous romance instead.”. *sigh*