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 – Insurgent by Veronica Roth

Wrap your brain around this…

Insurgent Book Review Pic 01 by Casey CarlisleGenre: Y/A, Science Fiction, Fantasy

No. of pages: 525

From Goodreads:

One choice can transform you—or it can destroy you. But every choice has consequences, and as unrest surges in the factions all around her, Tris Prior must continue trying to save those she loves—and herself—while grappling with haunting questions of grief and forgiveness, identity and loyalty, politics and love.

Tris’s initiation day should have been marked by celebration and victory with her chosen faction; instead, the day ended with unspeakable horrors. War now looms as conflict between the factions and their ideologies grows. And in times of war, sides must be chosen, secrets will emerge, and choices will become even more irrevocable—and even more powerful. Transformed by her own decisions but also by haunting grief and guilt, radical new discoveries, and shifting relationships, Tris must fully embrace her Divergence, even if she does not know what she may lose by doing so.

Page border by Casey Carlisle

I’ve been slow getting into the Divergent series, but have managed to remain spoiler free so I can read the books before seeing the movies. After the shock and awe I got from the first novel, I was really looking forward to see what would happen in this second novel.

Insurgent’ really keeps you guessing and thinking. You get a sense of a bigger motive going on here which kept me intrigued. And thank goodness that Veronica Roth dropped so many bread crumbs into this second novel, because the pace dropped off around the half way mark – whether bogged down with too many facts, or including so much superfluous story arcs, I ended up putting down ‘Insurgent’ after reading 50% and took a break to read another book.

Luckily I was able to jump back into this quite quickly, and the pacing in the second half really picks up.

It still contains all that reckless gore and killing experienced in ‘Divergent,’ really adding to the sense of rebellion and desperation of the rebel faction members.

We learn more of the mythology behind the Divergent – which really threw me for a spin, and I can’t wait to find out what is going on in ‘Allegiant.’

Insurgent Book Review Pic 03 by Casey Carlisle

It’s great to see Tris not only break and fall, but get even stronger at the same time. She has to dig deep and test everything, her physical strength, her relationships, her sanity… it is really amazing what this girl goes through all in the name of gaining her freedom and truth.

I loved seeing the dynamics of Tris’ relationships switch around again and again, it added to the tension and tone of the novel. So much of the unexpected happened that I was bombarded with information, but it all adds to the mystery as to why Tris’ community lives the way it does.

Many of my friends are heavily invested in the Tris-Four ship, but I am still yet to feel any pull for this coupling.

Insurgent Book Review Pic 05 by Casey Carlisle

Roth still paints a marvellous and devastating dystopian world, and Tris’ narrative flows with ease through the highs and lows. The pacing felt a little stop-start in the middle, but considering the size of this book, it’s a relatively fast read. Further insight into the cast may have you changing you opinion of them, or your connection deepening. I really had no predictions for this, I was so busy working out what was going on and getting over one event to another, that I have to praise the way it is written. Pow. Bam. Boom!

A great follow up to ‘Divergent’ and will soon be picking up ‘Allegiant…’ let’s hope those surprises keep coming. If the writing style so far is anything to go by it’s going to be a rocky ride full of carnage.

Overall feeling: Well… that was unexpected.

Insurgent Book Review Pic 02 by Casey Carlisle

Insurgent Book Review Pic 06 by Casey Carlisle

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.