Wildcard (Warcross, #2)by Published 18 Sep 2018
|Wildcard (Warcross, #2).pdf|
|Publisher||G.P. Putnam's Sons Books for Young Readers|
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?
"Wildcard (Warcross, #2)" Reviews
When I die, I want Marie Lu to lower me into my grave so she can let me down one last time.
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 and less comfortable than ever.
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.
Seriously. Has anyone else ever been so disappointed by their most anticipated book that they've had the sudden urge to just disappear to another country, erase their history, re-write their identity, and become a mysterious figure who has never been photographed but occasionally appears in paintings done by unknown artists?
Because that’s how I feel about this book in general.
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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: [spoilers removed]
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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.
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!!