Book Review – ‘Wildcard’ (#2 Warcross) by Marie Lu

This takes gaming to a whole new level.

Wildcard (#2 Warcross) Book Review Pic 01 by Casey CarlisleGenre: Y/A, Science Fiction,

No. of pages: 402

From Goodreads:

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?


There was certainly more action and espionage in ‘Wildcard’ than in ‘Warcross.’ Where ‘Warcross’ is about Emika fitting in, ‘Wildcard’ is about how isolated she really is. The only person she can trust is herself. Her world is deconstructed and it’s up to her to piece it back together.

Even though I enjoyed the story, and there is plenty going on in the plot, I wasn’t as engaged with Emika’s plight as I was in ‘Warcross.’ Which is unusual considering it’s in my favourite genre and Marie Lu managed to up the stakes on all counts with this sequel. I’m thinking it has something to do with Lu’s writing style… a more succinct and descriptive construction may have kept my interest? I put this novel down a number of times… or maybe I was just having a “moment?” I will re-read this duology at a later date and investigate this issue further. But for now I’m attributing this phenomena to Lu’s writing style. Which is nothing in judgement of ‘Wildcard’ as it’s subjective and down to personal tastes.

Wildcard (#2 Warcross) Book Review Pic 02 by Casey CarlisleEmika was a fun protagonist. She is resourceful and street savvy. Though we don’t get as much of the secondary characters from the debut, this novel deals with only a few core characters in her orbit.

There are a lot of unexpected twists in the plot, and maybe a few of them did not have the gravitas I was expecting. It is certainly unique but did not entirely resonate with me. But I could definitely see this working really well on the small screen as a television series. The pacing is great, there is a lot of action and interesting characters.

The overall tone of this duology is predictable – we want to see Emika triumph over Hideo and an evil corporation… though this is deconstructed fairly quickly – and though the theme is resolved – it is achieved in an unexpected way. So while we get the closure we need, it eventuates in a different form.

I’d recommend this for those who like light science fiction and YA, it is similar to novels like ‘Ready Player One’ and ‘Armada’ with the use of virtual reality, technology, evil corporations vying for control, and the protagonist as a part of a rebellion to even the status quo.

A fun read with a mix of futuristic technology and the implications of their presence on society, but I think I wanted a little more sophistication with the writing. A good solid read for the genre and demographic it is targeted towards.

Overall feeling: Good, but… meh

Wildcard (#2 Warcross) Book Review Pic 03 by Casey Carlisle

Wildcard (#2 Warcross) Book Review Pic 04 by Casey Carlisle


© Casey Carlisle 2019. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this blog’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Casey Carlisle with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.

Book Review – ‘Warcross’ (#1 Warcross) by Marie Lu

A VR battle royale.

Warcross (#1 Warcross) Book Review Pic 01 by Casey Carlsile.jpgGenre: Y/A, Science Fiction,

No. of pages: 402

From Goodreads:

When a game called Warcross takes the world by storm, one girl hacks her way into its dangerous depths. For the millions who log in every day, Warcross isn’t just a game – it’s a way of life. Struggling to make ends meet, teenage hacker Emika Chen works as a bounty hunter, tracking down players who bet on the game illegally. When Emika hacks into the game illegally, she’s convinced she’ll be arrested, and is shocked when 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.

There was the hype, the gorgeous cover, and rave reviews from Marie Lu’s past titles that had me snapping up ‘Warcross’ as soon as I was able, finding a comfortable corner to escape and read.

I was pleasantly surprised by this title, and it is the first novel of Lu’s that I’ve read. It came on the heels of a similar title ‘Ready Player One’ (and the movie release,) so I was ready to get sucked into a digital fantasy world.

Warcross (#1 Warcross) Book Review Pic 02 by Casey CarlsileAlthough ‘Warcross’ was a little too ‘Charlie and the Chocolate Factory…’ Even though our protagonist Emika was hesitant at times, she was lead throughout the story. I was wanting her to show some more grit and independence.

I was not sure about the Hideko-Emika pairing… what is the age gap? Did anyone else feel a bit creeped out by this?

Definitely my favourite parts were the VR game battles. I could feel the tension; and the pace and writing style kept me gripped to the page.

Nice to see the inclusion of non-abled bodied characters in the team, (yay diversity) and their presence as a matter of no consequence, and even the character (Asher) is considered cute. I‘m bored of disabilities used as a plot device or an identifier; and ‘Warcross’ definitely leaves all that ish behind.

Warcross (#1 Warcross) Book Review Pic 04 by Casey Carlsile.gifThe VR world was built thoroughly, and I loved reading about the digital landscapes and conflicts; but the real world had some missing pieces. I wish the landscape was built more thoroughly as the virtual one was.

Some other drawbacks I had with the narrative was the low key, slow to build in the first half. I wanted it to build quicker, or drop some interesting cookies to keep me interested. ‘Warcross’ was mostly predictable, and did not feel altogether original. I think since ‘The Last Starfighter’ and ‘Tron’ movies back in the 1980’s anything using this plot device will feel ‘done’ unless the author can put a new twist on it.

Marie Lu has a great writing style, but was hoping for some more witty banter. I like me some witty banter. Or sarcasm.

Did I mention the cover art? OMG the cover! Drooling.

Warcross’ ends on a cliff-hanger – doh! Miss Lu executes a mic drop and leaves the room. Yeah thanks for that. Now I have the agony of waiting for the sequels release. Not to mention reviews of ‘Wildcard’ ARCs making rounds of the blogs – it’s torture.

Overall feeling: I want to be a hacker too!

Warcross (#1 Warcross) Book Review Pic 03 by Casey Carlsile.gif

Warcross (#1 Warcross) Book Review Pic 05 by Casey Carlsile.jpg

© Casey Carlisle 2018. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this blog’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Casey Carlisle with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.

Film vs Novel – The Giver

An audacious experiment in social justice and identity.

 Film vs Novel The Giver by Casey Carlisle

I had brushed past The Giver a number of occasions, and it was only after watching the movie did I bother to give this title a go. While I enjoyed the book, it wasn’t one of my favourites, and felt like it was an echo of Divergent (actually the other way around since Divergent was written later – but that happened to be the order I read/watched them in). There are many distinct differences between the written and film adaptation; the most notable is that of character development and the passage of time…

Where the movie embraces a more sci-fi element to make the story more visually stimulating, the book focused more on human rights, identity of self, and right to choose. With the advances in VFX, it certainly adds an eye-popping dynamic to any story, and the scenes produced in the film of the drones and technology woven into day to day living enhanced my enjoyment. However, I would have liked to see the film tackle a stronger sense of the more serious topics presented in the book. With that said, I feel that the social aspects weren’t discussed properly in the novel either – merely topics introduced for discussion without truly being explored. Quite possibly they are themes that are carried through in the subsequent instalments of The Giver quartet, but with not addressing them enough in this debut, it felt a little wishy-washy for me.

I noticed how in the movie they completely ignored the fact that all Giver/Receivers had blue eyes, signifying that it was a genetic trait that enabled the person to assume the position, (because the entire community is engineered). I guess they overlooked that to embrace a more diverse cast, but I think it had the viewer confused (it certainly didn’t sit right with me)… the community is supposed to be more sterile and monoethnic.

The Giver Film vs Novel Pic 02 by Casey CarlisleJonas in the book was very young when it came to assuming the position of a Keeper of Memory, and I had issue with this. The narrative sounded and felt too old for someone of that age. Plus the responsibilities and tasks felt way too important to be entrusted with someone so young. The passage of time in the book took years through the storyline, which added credence for me, like Jonas was undertaking a real apprenticeship. The film failed to convey this passage of time, leaving me questioning how Jonas (played by Brenton Thwaites) sufficiently developed in the story. But I liked the representation of his age in the film – it felt more appropriate.

There were other distinct differences I’d like to discuss, but in wanting to avoid spoilers, I’ll paraphrase… Jonas’s turning point in the film was much more satisfying – it created a culmination of action and tension – and involved more of the cast, where in comparison to the novel, eluded more to Jonas’s character development than an acceleration of blockbuster effects.

The Giver Film vs Novel Pic 03 by Casey Carlisle

Having Asher (played by Cameron Monaghan) become a Drone Pilot instead of a Recreational Director added a different dynamic in the film version. Within in the book it was to illustrate the naivety of war, but in the film it was a tool to expose the landscape in and around the community and it Big Brother-esque governmental control and inject some action and pacing.

I found the book more satisfying, its underlying commentary on identity and community as handled well for a young adult market. The book overall, however felt unfinished and not fully discovered. The Film, comparatively was entertaining but lacked the clout of a social conscious you garner from the book, which left it a little wishy-washy. So it’s the book for the win!

Critique Casey by Casey Carlisle

© Casey Carlisle 2015. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this blog’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Casey Carlisle with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.