Wildcard by Marie Lu (Warcross #2)
Publisher: G.P. Putnam’s Sons BYR
Release Date: September 18, 2018
Summary: 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?
My Rating:★★★★☆ ½
My Thoughts: Wildcard is the character-driven finale to the Warcross duology! With intrigue and more of a central focus on the characters and complex plot, Lu’s finale changes the game and raises the stakes more than ever!
I was on the verge of a reading slump, but Analee, In Real Life & now Wildcard have just pulled me out of it! I flew through Wildcard in practically a couple sittings!
Wildcard picks up just 3 days after the ending of Warcross and Emika is seeing the impacts of Hideo’s algorithm firsthand, with criminals turning themselves in or even attempting suicide.
Emika can’t help but blame herself and consider what she could have done differently. But, now Zero (who we know is Sasuke) is wondering if Emika will join his side to bring down Hideo’s algorithm one and for all!
She doesn’t want to put her Warcross team (The Phoenix Riders) in danger, but she knows they can’t stay in the dark about whats going on.
As she works with Zero, she figures out what exactly the plan is to bring down the algorithm and learns more about the impacts of the Neuro-Link than she first thought was possible.
Okay so I don’t want to get into too many major spoilers here, but I just want to say that what I really loved about Wildcard so much was how Marie really changed the atmosphere of this finale, compared to Warcross.
Where Warcross was very action-packed, quick-paced, & delving with intrigue, Wildcard focuses more on the specifics of characters, politics, & intrigue that she expands on even more than in book 1!
I was iffy about this intrigue-focused sequel/finale, but reading it, reminded me why I loved Alwyn Hamilton’s sequel to Rebel Of The Sands, Traitor To The Throne.
The intrigue and politics to the world of Wildcard for me, just added a whole new layer of depth to the tech., business, and morality that was introduced in the previous book, which I really enjoyed!
Within this book, we get introduced a vigilante team of sorts, called the Blackcoats. Which is led by Zero, Dr. Dana Taylor, & assassin, Jax. All they want is for Emika to join with them, so they can put a stop to the algorithm.
This leads us to see a whole different side and much higher stakes to the technology introduced in book 1!
I really loved how character-driven this book was and because of that we learn more about the Phoenix Riders team: Hammie, Roshan, Asher, & bounty hunter Tremaine. But with the introduction to the Blackcoats, I loved that we learned even more about Zero & new character, Jax (she was really great).
I loved Jax introduction and her overall story! When reading about her through Emika’s POV, you can just sense what a fun, interesting, & badass character she is! Jax was a wonderfully developed and explored morally grey character, considering she’s only in Wildcard!
Hideo and Emika’s dynamic really changes in this book and takes some unexpected turns with the introduction to Zero/Sasuke’s story!
Wildcard goes in ways I wasn’t expecting (in terms of Zero, the use of the Neuro-Link, Hideo, etc.) and is a lot darker than Warcross, which I found made it such a unique and memorable finale for me!
This book also gives a bit of a psychological thriller vibe, which I wasn’t expecting at all, but the more I got invested in the politics, depth to the story, the mystery that unravels, etc. I found it just made the plot just–so different and it could have been a very predictable story, but Marie really took risks with how she explored the backstory and direction of Zero’s character, among other things, which personally made it a fun read!
As for why why it isn’t exactly a full 5-stars like Warcross, similar to Traitor, when a book is very politics/ intrigue heavy, I found some of the character and story threads felt a bit slower paced than I would have liked.
Wildcard is a dark, character-driven finale to the Warcross duology! With a focus on intrigue, politics, new characters, & a story that will leave you on the edge of your seat, Wildcard will have you connecting the pieces with every page!