Author: Marie Lu
Published: September 18, 2018
Genre: Young Adult, Science Fiction
Goodreads Description: 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?
Let’s get right into it: this book was disappointing.
Wildcard was the much-anticipated, second book in the Warcross duology by Marie Lu. It bums me out that I didn’t enjoy this book as much as I thought I would because I was so blown away by the first book, Warcross. The technology, asian american representation, and eventual shocking plot twist in Warcross had me itching for Wildcard’s release. Needless to say, I had high expectations—and that’s my fault.
Honestly, I didn’t learn anything after reading Warcross though. Like, ᴅᴏɴ’ᴛ ʜᴀᴠᴇ ᴇxᴘᴇᴄᴛᴀᴛɪᴏɴs. (Specifically, don’t expect that a book is a standalone—but you can read more about that particular frustration in my book review for Warcross.)
Firstly, this shouldn’t count as a point against the book, but I had the hardest time remembering what happened in Warcross and couldn’t keep track of the different side characters
(and there were a lot of side characters. Our main character, Emika, is quite popular). If you haven’t read Warcross before, you definitely need to read it before Wildcard. Lu jumps right into Wildcard with little introduction of the events in the previous book, so this isn’t the type of series you can pick up out of order expecting to understand everything. 𝘐 𝘸𝘢𝘴 𝘤𝘰𝘯𝘧𝘶𝘴𝘦𝘥, 𝘢𝘯𝘥 𝘐 𝘥𝘪𝘥 𝘮𝘺 𝘳𝘦𝘢𝘥𝘪𝘯𝘨.
My forgetfulness aside, I did remember how awesome the technology was. The google glasses-like eye piece called the “NeuroLink” was still an amazing concept. It allowed people to augment the world around them making things like translating speech real time possible
(that! is! so! cool!). As I stated in my Warcross review, the NeuroLink also allowed for “fantastical descriptions of Tokyo where people have held nothing back in altering their appearances while mythical creatures tail them and colorful store displays have evolved to grab your attention” (SO! COOL!).
However, I found that the novelty of the technology wore off quickly. Many of the descriptions of how the NeuroLink changed people’s surroundings were similar to the ones I was so amazed by in the first book. Half-way through Wildcard though, those details were just redundant and boring. I was hoping that Lu had invented a new technology for this book, but nothing sparked my imagination like in Warcross.
While the science fiction aspect of the story failed to meet my expectations, my biggest problem with Wildcard was how predictable it was. After the tremendous plot twist and cliffhanger (‼️) in Warcross, I expected Lu to add more complex plot lines to the story. Instead, I found that she reverted to overdone villain cliches and science fiction explanations
(not shown here for spoiler reasons). Unlike with Warcross, I didn’t have the same urge to finish Wildcard quickly 𝘣𝘦𝘤𝘢𝘶𝘴𝘦 𝘐 𝘧𝘦𝘭𝘵 𝘭𝘪𝘬𝘦 𝘐 𝘬𝘯𝘦𝘸 𝘸𝘩𝘢𝘵 𝘸𝘢𝘴 𝘨𝘰𝘪𝘯𝘨 𝘵𝘰 𝘩𝘢𝘱𝘱𝘦𝘯 𝘢𝘭𝘳𝘦𝘢𝘥𝘺.
𝙒𝙞𝙡𝙙𝙘𝙖𝙧𝙙 𝙬𝙖𝙨𝙣’𝙩 𝙖𝙡𝙡 𝙗𝙖𝙙 𝙩𝙝𝙤𝙪𝙜𝙝. Even though I couldn’t keep all the secondary characters straight, I loved learning more about their backstories and craved more parts with them versus with Emika. Their scenes were a good breather from Emika’s story because she annoyed me more and more as she fell into the “I-know-what’s-best-for-everyone” mindset.
Whoops, I was trying to highlight the good parts of the book 😅.
Emika’s love interest, Hideo, was another pro of the book. I love how morally-gray his character was. It was easy to put myself into Emika’s place as she battled with having feelings towards a person who wasn’t all that “good”. 𝘐’𝘮 𝘥𝘦𝘧𝘪𝘯𝘪𝘵𝘦𝘭𝘺 𝘢 𝘴𝘶𝘤𝘬𝘦𝘳 𝘧𝘰𝘳 𝘵𝘩𝘪𝘴 𝘵𝘺𝘱𝘦 𝘰𝘧 𝘣𝘳𝘰𝘰𝘥𝘪𝘯𝘨 𝘳𝘰𝘮𝘢𝘯𝘤𝘦 which Lu executed satisfactorily in this book.
Can I also add the Lu has a thing for writing water scenes with Emika and Hideo. Just saying 👀.
Overall, Wildcard was an anti-climatic end to the Warcross duology. It wasn’t as dazzling as the former book, but it did have its redeeming and enjoyable parts. For that reason, I’d still recommend it to those of you who are curious as to how the cliffhanger plays out or those who are invested in the characters—just don’t expect too much.