When I describe this book to people, Ready Player One usually comes up as a comp title. Protagonist finds herself in a virtual reality tournament. Except that’s the thing—Warcross is *better* than Ready Player One. It appeals to me a lot more, which probably has a lot to do with my personal tastes. I feel like the writing is tighter, though. The characterization happens more smoothly. The backstory is doled out just a little bit at a time, setting us up for a great series that I’m eager to keep reading. Emika Chen is likable. She’s female, which makes it easier for me to relate to her (I’m sorry, guys…I’m just a little sick of you right now with all the #metoo and #timesup stuff going on). Her past is complex, giving her depth and heart that I felt was lacking in Ready Player One’s protagonist. The ending of Warcross is also *much* better. Ready Player One had a lot of bells and whistles in all the 80s trivia, and that’s great and kept me turning pages, but Warcross doesn’t *need* fancy gimmicks (though it has a few). Possibly the best thing about Warcross is the protagonist’s “extra” skills. She isn’t just competing in a tournament for money or fame. She’s a hacker. A *damn* good hacker. She glitches herself into the game on accident, and then a whole mess of events ensues that pulls her into this world, into new relationships, into new challenges. The pacing was fabulous, and I finished this book in just two nights because I didn’t want to stop reading it. Even better—there’s more to come. I can’t wait to continue reading this series, to find out what happens after the plot twist we’re left with at the end of this installment (a good one, though. Somewhat predictable, but set up well enough that I’m not disappointed that the story is going in that direction).
I would recommend Warcross to anyone, really. I think some people I know would prefer Ready Player One, being more plot-centric, but the characterization happening in Warcross, and the excellent settings and events that support and enrich it, appeal much more to my tastes. The writing is tight, the relationships and character growth are sweet and complex, and I can’t wait to read more Emika Chen. ❤