by Marie Lu
Publisher: G.P. Putnam’s Sons Books for Young Readers
Release Date: September 18, 2018
Genres: Young Adult; Science Fiction; Fantasy
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?
If you had asked me before whether virtual reality could ever cross over into reality, I would have shaken my head. It’s obvious to me what’s real and what isn’t, what should and shouldn’t be.
But there is a point where the lines start to blur, and I am standing in that place right now, struggling to see through the gray.
Wow. So Wildcard was one of my most anticipated reads of the year. I really loved Warcross and so I jumped at the chance to get my hands on an ARC of this one. It had been getting mixed reviews and I was a little afraid to read it and be ultimately let down from the feeling I had at the end of Warcross. But, at least for me, I was pleased with how Lu wrapped everything up.
Full disclosure – I did not think it was nearly as good as Warcross. Some of the things I LOVED about the first installment were shockingly missing from the sequel. Wildcard is an entirely different animal, but there were some great twists, a bit of mystery and I personally really liked the ending.
And of course, Marie Lu is still Marie Lu. Her writing is exceptional.
He’s more than a fling or a bounty or a mark. He’s forever bound to my history. The Hideo who has stolen the world’s free will is still the same Hideo who grieved his borother so deeply that it left a permanent thread of silver in his dark hair. The same Hideo who loves his mother and father. The same Hideo who once lifted me out of my darkness and dared me to dream of better things.
He was once the hand that pulled me up. Now I have to be his.
So, what’s missing?? For fans of the action, I read a lot of reviews complaining that there was not enough Warcross. Yes, for the most part, this is true. In Wildcard there is a lot more happening outside of the Neurolink alternate reality. For me personally, it didn’t bother me too much. There was some Warcross & for me it was enough. (#sorrynotsorry but those weren’t my favorite scenes in the first book, so…)
What I missed were the characters! The cast of the first book was phenomenal, especially because our heroine (Emika) was easily my least favorite character, the supporting cast made the book. We are introduced to a few new characters in this one, but (and perhaps to make up for new characters??) some of my favorites in the first book took a huge hit (I’m talking about my Phoenix Riders!). There were even a few main characters from Warcross that either never made an appearance at all or were so briefly mentioned, they essentially didn’t exist in the sequel. This was super disappointing 😦
Of course we delve more deeply into Emika’s and (esp) Hideo’s pasts, influences and motivations & we thankfully learn all the answers to the questions we had from Warcross. But I just wanted more. It is both hard to explain and just that simple. We got tiny glimpses into the motivations behind our favorite Phoenix Riders but it left me wanting, wanting wanting… Are these characters going to get their own series?
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.
One thing I appreciated about Wildcard was there was a lot less focus on the romance. Yes, it is still there and for the most part it drives a bunch of the action in the novel, but we’re not forced to figure out what Hideo sees in Emika – it just is, and that is refreshing.
And like I said above, there were some truly great twists in this one. No spoilers but this one was definitely a bit of a punch to the heart. And the ending really got me.
If you loved Warcross, pick this one up! It might not be the ending you were dreaming of, but it did leave me satisfied & excited for what Lu does next.
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.
Thank you to the publisher for providing an ARC of this book in exchange for my honest review. All quotes are taken from an uncorrected proof and are subject to change upon official publication.