Warcross by Marie LuWarcross by Marie Lu


byMarie Lu

Hardcover | September 12, 2017

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From #1 New York Times bestselling author Marie Lu—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. The obsession started ten years ago and its fan base now spans the globe, some eager to escape from reality and others hoping to make a profit. Struggling to make ends meet, teenage hacker Emika Chen works as a bounty hunter, tracking down Warcross players who bet on the game illegally. But the bounty-hunting world is a competitive one, and survival has not been easy. To make some quick cash, Emika takes a risk and hacks into the opening game of the international Warcross Championships—only to accidentally glitch herself into the action and become an overnight sensation.

Convinced she’s going to be arrested, Emika is shocked when instead 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. With no time to lose, Emika’s whisked off to Tokyo and thrust into a world of fame and fortune that she’s only dreamed of. But soon her investigation uncovers a sinister plot, with major consequences for the entire Warcross empire.

In this sci-fi thriller, #1 New York Times bestselling author Marie Lu conjures an immersive, exhilarating world where choosing who to trust may be the biggest gamble of all.
Marie Lu is the author of the #1 New York Times bestselling series The Young Elites, as well as the blockbuster bestselling Legend series. She graduated from the University of Southern California and jumped into the video game industry as an artist. Now a full-time writer, she spends her spare time reading, drawing, playing games, and ...
Title:WarcrossFormat:HardcoverDimensions:368 pages, 8.56 × 5.87 × 1.06 inPublished:September 12, 2017Publisher:Penguin Young Readers GroupLanguage:English

The following ISBNs are associated with this title:

ISBN - 10:0399547967

ISBN - 13:9780399547966


Rated 5 out of 5 by from Fantastic! Marie Lu is superb Marie Lu pushes the very edge of technology, VR, augmented reality and brings in new tech, but I can also see aspects of today’s world integrated which makes it so much more realistic. So interesting. So imaginative. But also not just for gamers because there was friendship, thrills, evil and love. My god it has everything. A must read!
Date published: 2017-11-20
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Wicked A fantastic mix between The Hunger Games and Ready Player One. Emika Chen works as a bounty hunter who catches criminals associated with the world’s latest fad, Warcross, both a virtual reality game and getaway. When she accidentally gets caught glitching into a championship game of Warcross, Emika finds herself being chosen as a wildcard for the tournament. She encounters Hideo Tanaka, the boy genius behind Warcross and NeuroLink. As their relationship blossoms, the dark secrets behind Warcross and Hideo’s past come to light. I loved this book for the escape it created. Virtual reality is becoming a way of life and I wouldn’t be surprised if it takes over the world as Warcross did in Lu’s novel. I look forward to the rest of the series!
Date published: 2017-11-20
Rated 3 out of 5 by from ok nonetheless, it was entertaining and definitely kept me interested
Date published: 2017-11-19
Rated 3 out of 5 by from ok nonetheless, it was entertaining and definitely kept me interested
Date published: 2017-11-19
Rated 5 out of 5 by from It's more than just a game! Every time I read a new book by Marie Lu I say, this is my favorite book by her. And once again, Warcross is now added to my favorites. I absolutely loved it. I love reading, video games, and anime and manga. This book seems to have it all for me. The technology was really cool. I had my suspicions about certain characters but Marie Lu still managed to surprise me. And for the first time, I did not end up crying at the end as I do with all the books I've read by her.
Date published: 2017-11-15
Rated 3 out of 5 by from ok Such an inspiring and interesting read, simply could not put it down! Great job!
Date published: 2017-10-30
Rated 3 out of 5 by from ok Great book, the introduction of some characters and the setting was fantastic and I enjoy the way it's been written out in the book
Date published: 2017-10-24
Rated 3 out of 5 by from ok caught my attention almost immediately and I could not put it down. Great read
Date published: 2017-10-21
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Amazing! Wow! I loved this so much. This is my fourth Marie Lu book, I really enjoyed the Legend series but I never got around to reading the Young Elites (I think I need to now). This reminded me of Ready Player One but it was also very different. It was more focused on code and the game itself, rather than extreme amounts of pop culture references. I liked the setting of Tokyo as well, I haven't read many popular books set in Japan and it was really cool! The game of Warcross itself reminds me of capture the flag but it has more strategy involved and it's set in various virtual worlds. Characters in this book are professional players, where Warcross has basically taken over the world. I loved Emika and how smart and badass she was!! I'm hoping to get more of Asher, Hammie and Roshan in the sequel and maybe even Tremaine... One of my favourites was Hideo and I can't wait to find out for the next book to find out what happens with him!
Date published: 2017-10-18
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Game On!! It's always a good feeling when you read a book everyone's loving and end up joining the club. Warcross was a fantastic read! Maybe because I'm not a gamer so I didn't know what to expect but this book was everything I didn't know I wanted. Warcross, being my first foray into gaming stories, was refreshing and exciting. I haven't read a book quite like it so that reflected positively on my enjoyment of the plot. There were some surprising elements and some predictable bits but through most of the story my blood was pumping with intrigue. The stakes were high and I couldn't wait to decode the mystery. Some plotlines left me with burning questions but I thoroughly enjoyed the chase through cyber space. Warcross really touches on how much technology impacts our lives. People literally can't function without gadgets these days. Warcross takes things one step further showing what may be our very near future- when virtual worlds intertwine with reality. It may be an impressive feat but with it comes risks. Marie Lu does a perfect job setting up the sinister side of the digital world. Because of the past-faced nature of the Warcross games there wasn't really room for doubts and that worked beautifully to blind us from the truth right in front of our eyes. Zero's identity was not at all surprising but definitely curious. We don't yet know how it's possible but this person was my top suspect almost as soon as said person was brought up. I just knew we'd be seeing this person again and not in a happy way. It didn't really take away from the story per se but I really hope Marie Lu will have a satisfying explanation to compensate for the predictability. I knew something was going to happen between Emika and Hideo but I wasn't sure I'd be on board. Well, I shipped it. They turned out to be a surprisingly intense and swoony couple. Their secret rendezvous and stolen moments all felt genuine. With the huge revelation dropped at the end of this first book I look forward to seeing what direction their relationship will go in the next book. Warcross made for a stimulating start to an electrifying series. If Marie Lu just keeps up what she did with Warcross then we're good! I'm most eager to see what fun title the sequel will have.
Date published: 2017-10-16
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Incredible I got this book as an arc, and I loved the book so much! I didn't know if I'd like the idea of virtual reality, but since it was Marie Lu I thought I'd give it a chance. I'm so happy I did. I loved all the characters so much! I guessed one part of the ending but the other part totally threw me off. I still have mixed feelings about it, but it breaks my heart just a little at the reason the ending ended like that. Long story short, amazing read! I definitely recommend :)
Date published: 2017-10-15
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Unbelievably Great! This was my first Marie Lu book and it did not disappoint!! I was instantly pulled into the story and the game that I was just reading it too fast. I was also able to listen to the audiobook which is also really well done! Since finishing this I will definitely be reading her other books! Marie Lu has delivered us action, romance, and intrigue! I definitely need the next book in this series. This has to be one of my favourite books of this year! Warcross is such a unique book with a great plot because it's a story about Emika who has hacked into the most famous game out there. She then hacks into the system during the opening games only glitch herself into the system. Then competes in the game itself as a spy to find out a security problem. I absolutely loved this book from beginning to end. There were so many twists and turns that you will not be able to put this book down. Emika is a very likeable character. She is smart, fierce, and even has rainbow hair! I really like how much she develops as a character. Her backstory is so interesting that I was on the edge of my seat! Overall, Warcross is a must read! While it may appeal to gamers it can be loved by everyone! Looking for a fast paced book you will want to grab the book immediately because Marie Lu is now on my list of favourite authors because her writing is incredible! Now to wish I had the sequel!!
Date published: 2017-10-07
Rated 4 out of 5 by from 4.5 stars for this action-packed story and virtual worlds Lu can really write any genre. Dystopian, fantasy and now sci-fi. Emika was a pretty cool heroine but at times I wished she interacted more with her teammates in Warcross even though she had a different mission. Hideo was pretty cool too. Overall, it was a fun read and can't wait to read the next book!
Date published: 2017-10-05
Rated 4 out of 5 by from Good book I enjoyed Warcross a lot! I meant to read a little with breakfast and then I ended up sitting in the dining hall for two and a half hours totally engrossed. The world building was SUPER cool. Lots of stuff about the tech and how it changed society for the better and the worse. It lost a little of the luster when it was revealed this was our world plus a new tech (it's like the smartphone advanced us, only-) but I think that's more of a personal preference than anything. I particularly appreciated the fact that disabled characters were included, and I really would have liked a shout out, so to speak, as to how these NeuroLink glasses could help deaf people (captioning live speech) etc. That would have really put it up that last little bit.
Date published: 2017-10-04
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Marie Lu NEVER FAILS to give her readers the full human spectrum of emotions. No joke. This book is fantastic. She says it's an "accumulation of everything she loves" and I can definitely see that. Sure, it doesn't have the same investigative-right-wrong-revolution-vibe from Legend, or the vengeance-seeking-vendetta from The Young Elites, or the same height of seriousness that those two series had, but THIS IN ITSELF IS SO GOOD, AND SO DIVERSE, AND INCLUDES GIRL GAMERS???? Like, it's even in her acknowledgements. As a Chinese female gamer myself, this book felt so relatable. So, the characters are great, it's an awesomely diverse cast, and their all so easy to sympathize with. Then, what else is good? The P L O T. It's so good, and so gripping, I could not put the book down. You should clear your schedule if you plan to read this book. But also, you should read it RIGHT AWAY. The world building is also fantastic, as per usual. I love how realistic it all is. If you love sci-fi, this is a definite read. So there's awesome world-building, and super high-tech everythings that makes my nerdy, geeky heart soar with joy. What else is there? THE RELATIONSHIPS. Five words: full range of human emotions. Please please please read this book and give it the best ratings - it really doesn't even do it justice (can I give it more than five stars??) IT'S SUCH A GOOD BOOk.
Date published: 2017-10-04
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Great book! I read this book in like 2 days it was so interesting. I would totally recommend it.
Date published: 2017-10-02
Rated 4 out of 5 by from Virtual Reality, Complex Characters and World Building that is Super fine and intense ! Wonderful Novel ! This was my first Marie Lu novel. I know...a complete and utter travesty. However, I'm hooked. She has been an author on my two read pile for a while now and this novel absolutely solidified by there is so much 'buzz' around her work. This novel first off all has a wicked cover. So much colour and brightness...it just shows the potential of what the characters are capable of with in the novel. Emika is a wonderful character to read through because she is very much alone. This leads her to be a very relateable yet flawed character. Hideo, is cool and reserved. Incredibly attractive and super complicated. Ah there are so many feelings about this novel. I devoured it in one sitting. I had to know what was going to happen, and I already need book 2 in my life. There were plot twists I saw coming, and things I hoped would happen. But everything was eclipsed by the finality of this novel. Incredible read, and I highly recommend it. If you love virtual reality, complex characters, and world building for days this series will be right up your alley.
Date published: 2017-10-01
Rated 4 out of 5 by from Another Solid Lu Book *jaw dropped smiling* NO! Omg! Lu gets an applause for that ending. I’m not sure if I agree with the “ethical” side or the “evil” side cause I would love to have the ability to make some politicians be forced to do logical and legal shit instead of what they currently do. This wasn’t as “Ready Player One” as I was hoping but I enjoyed it. The romance slowly won me over and then got blown up at the end tearing my heart out. if the romance had been less cheesy and ridiculous and predictable then it would’ve been 5 stars. The romance could’ve easily been replaced by a deep friendship or teacher/student relationship…both of which would’ve been more original. Ah! Excited for the sequel and also to see what the cover will look like. I love it when science and technology gives me an inner struggle or ethics and morals.
Date published: 2017-09-25
Rated 5 out of 5 by from A Must Read Wow! Marie Lu has definitely done it again! With virtual reality in it, it made the story so unique and interesting. Personally, this is definitely one of my favorite book by her so far. The fact that Emika Chen is a hacker also add on to the interestingness for this book. Cannot wait for the sequel.
Date published: 2017-09-22
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Believe The Hype! I knew I would really enjoy this book the moment I started it, because Marie Lu is awesome, and because the book has been gaining a lot of hype lately. And the end result did not disappoint. This story and its awesome main character Emika snared me from the get-go and took me on an adventure that leaves me with a wonderful book hangover. I absolutely loved the world––not so different from our own, but so immersive and colourful and vivid, I actually felt like I was there with the characters. And the characters are stellar! Emika is a wonderful lead with complexity and a wonderful heart. Heido is just as complex as she is, and their romance is heart-rending. While the major action comes later in the novel (you'll be snared by the world and characters for most of the book, trust me), it is intense and thrilling and so utterly unique. You've never read a book like this before. Gamers, sci-fi fans, and readers looking for a great new book are going to be addicted to this!
Date published: 2017-09-21
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Imaginative and Exciting! “Warcross” is an imaginative and exciting blend of dystopian- scify, mystery and romance that begins when bounty hunter and hacker Emika Chen struggling to pay her rent accidently glitches into the action in a Warcross tournament championship game in Tokyo only to be hired by the game’s young brilliant creator Hideo Tanaka to uncover a security breach in the system. The story heats up as Emika draws closer to identifying the culprit when she discovers that one of the draft choices on the Phoenix Raiders is a spy and while uncovering a sinister and deadly plan in her foray into the criminal underworld. Watched worldwide, Warcross is not only a highly addictive game that helps people forget their problems but has created a criminal monopoly on illegal betting in the shady underworld. As a penniless bounty hunter with a record herself Emika Chen hunts for the offenders who escape the police net in her need to make some quick cash to pay the rent and eat only to get swept up in the world of Warcross when she hacks a tournament championship game in Tokyo and instead of being arrested is flown to that city and hired to find the felon hacking the system. Fast-paced and gripping from start to finish, Emi a lone wolf by nature not only uncovers clues to the hacker’s plan but makes friends on the team and even finds romance in the arms of Hideo Tanaka. In a well-developed roller-coaster ride that keeps you on the edge of your seat, intensity and suspense build as Emi and Hideo’s heartbreaking pasts are revealed and the danger escalates with an assassination attempt and bombing. Yet the action explodes near the end with a violent confrontation and twist that begs for a sequel. Skilfully Marie Lu creates characters that bring the story to life infusing it with depth, passion and enough complexity to make it a must-read for young adults. Emika Chen is a clever, resourceful and perceptive eighteen-year-old who’s protective of the underdog which got her into trouble at school. Hideo Tanaka is the creative genius Emika’s admired for years. At first, he’s intense, reserved, cool, and condescending until he warms up to Emi showing her a curious, compassionate and vulnerable side to his nature. As the danger increases Emi and Hideo’s attraction ignites, but you wonder if it will last under the pressure of the media, and the tension and conflict they face. I thoroughly enjoyed “Warcross” and can’t wait to see where Marie Lu will take the plot and its characters next
Date published: 2017-09-18
Rated 4 out of 5 by from yes Such an inspiring and interesting read, simply could not put it down! Great job!
Date published: 2017-09-16
Rated 3 out of 5 by from really? "couldn't care less" come on, how did an editor not catch that.
Date published: 2017-09-16
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Clever & Addictive Thrill Ride Emika Chen makes her living as a bounty hunter in New York City. She tracks down those conducting illegal activities within a hugely popular online game called Warcross. During the opening of the Official World Championships, she discovers a tiny glitch in Warcross's security and is able to steal an expensive item just before one of the tournament players is about to use it. By doing so she inadvertently hacks herself into the game. Instead of being banned from the game or worse, she becomes an instant celebrity, attracting the attention of its creator, Hideo Tanaka. With barely a moment to catch her breath, she is personally invited to travel to Tokyo and work for him. But what awaits her there is more than she’s expecting and danger is just around the corner. Author Marie Lu does a fabulous job describing the game and how widespread its importance is. The Official Warcross Championships are watched the world over and the top-ranking players are superstars. Images of the game and its stars are displayed all over the city. The audience for the opening ceremony numbers five hundred and twenty million. Warcross is a not just a form of escapism, it is also a way of life. Emika is a strong, sympathetic and worthy character. When her father dies unexpectedly, she is left with a huge debt and sent to live in a group foster home. Although she struggles to make ends meet and works hard to support herself, she feels empathy toward those even less fortunate than she is. She wants to escape from the poverty stricken life she leads and often dreams of becoming a star Warcross player. She is a loner, her only friend being her roommate Keira. Desperate for money, with threat of eviction looming over her, it is understandable why she is eager to leave her unhappiness in New York City behind and agree to Hideo’s offer. Emika is convincing as a girl thrown into an unsuspecting circumstance. She handles pressure well and is used to dealing with criminals and situations quickly and efficiently. She accepts her new surroundings quite easily when her fantasy becomes reality. Her relationship with the wealthy, mysterious Hideo is intense and intriguing. Lu invents a world that is imaginative and detailed. Creations like the NeuroLink - thin wireless glasses that trick the brain into believing the virtual is indistinguishable from reality, are exceptionally illustrated. The differences portrayed between the bright neon lights of Times Square, the dirty, garbage-strewn streets of the Bronx and the dynamic, vibrant city of Tokyo with its virtual models, flying ships and unusual pets, is superb. The game itself is magnificently depicted, with spectacular scenic views and incredible landscapes. Warcross is a clever and addictive thrill ride from start to finish. Complete with a relatable heroine, colourful imagery, a fast-paced story and the most amazing tech to die for, this book kept me on the edge of my seat! Highly recommended to gamers, Science Fiction fans or anyone who enjoys an exciting, action-packed novel.
Date published: 2017-09-14
Rated 3 out of 5 by from eh Wasn't too thrilled but felt that it was a good start
Date published: 2017-09-13
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Amazing! Where do I even begin with this one?! Excuse me if this review seems scattered but I want to write this review while all my thoughts on it are still fresh. I just finished this book and I feel like I'm sitting here in the after wave going, "Wait...what?! Is it really over? I want more!" First, I want to mention the thing that had me concerned when I started to read this novel. The first half of the book, to me, was slow. It honestly was a necessary pace though because everything within this world of virtual reality was being introduced. Additionally, the characters and the characters' backgrounds were also being explained. All of this was necessary and although it had me worried in the beginning, eventually the pace picked up and the rat race of not wanting to put this book down occurred. I also want to mention the incredibility of Marie Lu's writing. All of her writing within this story was amazing but I want to focus on her attention to detail. Let me tell you, I have never been able to envision an alternate world like I have for this book. It was jaw dropping. I felt like I really could picture what was happening within each moment of virtual reality. It was incredible. Also, without giving too much away, the competition. For me, the competition came across as a combination of The Hunger Games and The Triwizard Tournament--except within a different world with different abilities. I could be totally off base with that comparison but either way, the competition was amazing and the final tournament---what a way to finish off with a "bang" ;) I have to mention that one of the plot twists I did successfully predict but that is only because Marie Lu laid out the bait for that one. The main plot twist though, nope, no way, did NOT see that coming. Overall, I definitely recommend this read! Remember, for those out there like me, if you find the beginning a little slow just give it time and enjoy the descriptions of the alternative world in the meantime--it's worth it. Once you hit halfway you will not want to put the book down and by the end, you'll be screaming for the sequel. Speaking of which...I am ready. **Thank you to Penguin Random House Canada for sending me an ARC of this book in exchange for an honest review**
Date published: 2017-09-11
Rated 5 out of 5 by from This. Was. Great. I knew that I had to love if after literally everyone was raving about it. Marie Lu also wrote The Young Elites trilogy, which I really enjoyed. I immediately took a liking to Emika. Her rainbow hair, sass, and tech-savvy ways kept me constantly engaged, and with a compelling plot, I couldn't put this down. All I'm going to say about Hideo is oh my god. The other characters filled out the story nicely and with more than a few surprises. Things left off in a very unpredictable place and I can only assume the sequel is going to be as much of a roller coaster. Lu is brilliant at writing ambiguous characters. I thought I had guessed one thing - but surprise! - things are never as they seem. The tech and world terminology threw me off sometimes but I think it might just be me, because it just shows how complex Lu can create her new worlds. I'm already dying for the sequel and this one isn't even out yettttt.
Date published: 2017-08-13
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Pick This Up! *I received an advanced reader copy of this book from Indigo Books & Music Inc. in exchange for an honest review* #indigoemployee Warcross is centered upon the invention of a state-of-the-art virtual reality/gaming system that has taken the world by storm. Our main character, Emika, has fallen upon hard times after the death of her father and works as a bounty hunter in order to make ends meet. Soon she is offered a deal that she cannot refuse from the Warcross inventor, Hideo, and is swept into a conspiracy that will keep readers on the edge of their seats. Emika is a smart, funny and beautifully flawed main character. Readers DO NOT need to be gamers in order to enjoy Warcross – it is completely reader friendly. Think of a light thriller with espionage and hacking aspects. Lu has created a world where science and technology have no limits and readers will fantasize about joining the fun. Recommended for fans of Illuminae by Amie Kaufman and Ready Player One by Ernest Cline. *This book examines loss and how it can alter the lives of affected loved ones. It also promotes team work and warns of the potential dangers associated with the advancement of technology in our everyday lives.
Date published: 2017-06-20
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Incredible Virtual Reality Wolrd Thank you to Indigo for an ARC and the opportunity to read this gem. As a huge fan of Marie Lou's previous works I had high hopes for this Ready Player One and Enders Game esque book, AND SHE DID NOT DISAPPOINT! Loved the badass and capable main character and her incredible hacking skills. The dystopian society that revolves around a virtual gaming world was amazing. Overall a thrilling and action packed read and I can't wait for more!!!!!
Date published: 2017-06-18

Read from the Book

Chapter 1 It’s too damn cold of a day to be out on a hunt.   I shiver, tug my scarf up higher over my mouth, and wipe a few snowflakes from my lashes. Then I slam my boot down on my electric skateboard. The board is old and used, like everything else I own, its blue paint almost entirely scraped off to reveal cheap silver plastic underneath—but it’s not dead yet, and when I push my heel down harder, it finally responds, jerking me forward as I squeeze between two rows of cars. My bright, rainbow-dyed hair whips across my face.   “Hey!” a driver yells as I maneuver past his car. I glance over my shoulder to see him waving a fist at me through his open window. “You almost clipped me!”   I just turn back around and ignore him. Usually, I’m a nicer person than this—or, at least, I would have shouted an apology back. But this morning, I’d woken up to a yellow paper taped to the door of my apartment, its words printed in the largest font you can imagine.   72 HOURS TO PAY OR VACATE   Translation: I’m almost three months behind on my rent. So, unless I can get my hands on $3,450, I’ll be homeless and in the streets by the end of the week.   That’d put a damper on anyone’s day.   My cheeks sting from the wind. The sky beyond the cut of skyscrapers is gray, turning grayer, and in a few hours this flurry of snow will become a steady fall. Cars jam the streets, a nonstop trail of brake lights and honking from here all the way to Times Square. The occasional scream of a traffic controller’s whistle cuts above the chaos. The air is thick with the smell of exhaust, and steam billows from an open vent nearby. People swarm up and down the sidewalks. Students coming home from school are easy to spot, their backpacks and fat headphones dotting the crowds.   Technically, I should be one of them. This should have been my first year of college. But I started skipping classes after Dad died and dropped out entirely several years ago. (Okay, fine—technically, I was expelled. But I swear I would’ve quit anyway. More on that later.)   I look down at my phone again, my mind returning to the hunt. Two days ago, I had gotten the following text message:   New York Police Department ALERT! Arrest warrant out for Martin Hamer. Payment $5,000.   The police are so busy these days with the increasing crime in the streets that they don’t have time to hunt for petty criminals on their own—petty criminals like Martin Hamer, who’s wanted for gambling on Warcross, stealing money, and allegedly selling drugs to fund his bets. So, about once a week, the cops send out a message like this, a promise to pay anyone who can catch the criminal in question.   That’s where I come in. I’m a bounty hunter, one of many in Manhattan, and I’m fighting to capture Martin Hamer before another hunter can.   Anyone who’s ever fallen on hard times will understand the nearly constant stream of numbers that run through my mind. A month’s rent in the worst apartment in New York: $1,150. A month’s food: $180. Electricity and internet: $150. Boxes of macaroni, ramen, and Spam left in my pantry: 4. And so on. On top of that, I owe $3,450 in unpaid rent, and $6,000 in credit card debt.   The number of dollars left in my bank account: $13.   Not the normal things a girl my age worries about. I should be freaking out over exams. Turning in papers. Waking up on time.   But I haven’t exactly had a normal adolescence.   Five thousand dollars is easily the largest bounty in months. For me, it might as well be all the money in the world. So, for the last two days, I’ve done nothing but track this guy. I’ve lost four bounties in a row this month. If I lose this one, too, I’m going to be in real trouble.   Tourists always clogging up the streets, I think as a detour forces me down a path right into Times Square, where I get stuck behind a cluster of auto-taxis jammed at a pedestrian walkway. I lean back on my board, pull myself to a halt, and start inching backward. As I go, I glance down at my phone again.   A couple of months ago, I’d succeeded in hacking into the main directory of Warcross players in New York and synced it all up to my phone’s maps. It’s not hard, not if you remember that everyone in the world is connected in some way to everyone else. It’s just time-consuming. You worm your way into one account, then branch out to their friends, then their friends, and eventually, you’re able to track the location of any player in New York City. Now I’ve finally managed to place my target’s physical location, but my phone’s a cracked, beat-up old thing, with an antique battery that’s on its last legs. It keeps trying to sleep in order to save energy, and the screen is so dark I can barely see anything.   “Wake up,” I mutter, squinting at the pixels.   Finally, the poor phone lets out a pitiful buzz, and the red location marker updates on my map.   I make my way out of the taxi jam and push my heel down on my board. It protests for a moment, but then it speeds me forward, a dot in a sea of moving humanity.   Once I reach Times Square, screens tower above me, surrounding me in a world of neon and sound. Every spring, the official Warcross Championships kick off with a huge ceremony, and two teams of top-ranking players compete in an all-stars opening round of Warcross. This year’s opening ceremony happens tonight in Tokyo—so all the screens are Warcross-related today, showing a frenzied rotation of famous players, commercials, and footage of highlights from last year. Frankie Dena’s latest, craziest music video plays on the side of one building. She’s dressed like her Warcross avatar—in a limited edition suit and webbed glitter cape—and dancing with a bunch of businessmen in bright pink suits. Underneath the screen, a group of excited tourists stop to pose for photos with some guy dressed in fake Warcross gear.   Another screen features five of the superstar players competing in tonight’s opening ceremony. Asher Wing. Kento Park. Jena MacNeil. Max Martin. Penn Wachowski. I crane my neck to admire them. Each one is dressed from head to toe in the hottest fashion of the season. They smile down at me, their mouths big enough to swallow the city, and as I look on, they all hold up cans of soda, declaring Coca-Cola their drink of choice during game season. A marquee of text scrolls below them:   Top Warcross Players Arrive in Tokyo, Poised for World Domination   Then I’m through the intersection and cut onto a smaller road. My target’s little red dot on my phone shifts again. It looks like he’s turned onto Thirty-Eighth Street.   I squeeze my way through another few blocks of traffic before I finally arrive, pulling over along the curb beside a newsstand. The red location dot now hovers over the building in front of me, right above a café’s door. I tug my scarf down and let out a sigh of relief. My breath fogs in the icy air. “Caught you,” I whisper, allowing myself a smile as I think of the five-thousand-dollar bounty. I hop off my electric skateboard, pull out its straps, and swing it over my shoulder so that it bumps against my backpack. It’s still warm from use, the heat of it seeping through my hoodie, and I arch my back to savor it.   As I pass the newsstand, I glimpse the magazine covers. I have a habit of checking them out, searching for coverage of my favorite person. There’s always something. Sure enough, one of the magazines features him prominently: a tall young man lounging in an office, dressed in dark trousers and a crisp collar shirt, sleeves casually rolled up to his elbows, his face obscured by shadows. Below him is the logo for Henka Games, Warcross’s parent studio. I stop to read the headline.   HIDEO TANAKA TURNS 21 | Inside the Private Life of the Warcross Creator   My heart skips a familiar beat at my idol’s name. Too bad there’s no time to stop and flip through the magazine. Maybe later. I reluctantly turn away, adjust my backpack and board higher on my shoulders, and pull my hood up to cover my head. The glass windows I pass reflect a distorted vision of myself—face elongated, dark jeans stretched too long, black gloves, beat-up boots, faded red scarf wrapped around my black hoodie. My rainbow-colored hair spills out from underneath my hood. I try to imagine this reflected girl printed on the cover of a magazine.   Don’t be stupid. I push the ridiculous thought away as I head toward the café’s entrance, shifting my thoughts instead to the running checklist of tools in my backpack. 1. Handcuffs 2. Cable launcher 3. Steel-tipped gloves 4. Phone 5. Change of clothes 6. Stun gun 7. Book   On one of my first hunts, my target threw up all over me after I used my stun gun (#6) on him. I started bringing a change of clothes (#5) after that. Two targets have managed to bite me, so after a few tetanus shots, I added the gloves (#3). The cable launcher (#2) is for getting to hard-to-reach places and catching hard-to-reach people. My phone (#4) is my portable hacking assistant. Handcuffs (#1) are because, well, obviously.   And the book (#7) is for whenever the hunt involves a lot of waiting around. Entertainment that won’t eat up my batteries is always worth bringing.   Now I step into the café, soak in the warmth, and check my phone again. Customers are lined up along a counter displaying pastries, waiting for one of the four auto-cashiers to open. Decorative bookshelves line the walls. A smattering of students and tourists sit at the tables. When I point my phone’s camera at them, I can see their names hovering over their heads, meaning none of them have set themselves on Private. Maybe my target isn’t on this floor.   I wander past the shelves, my attention shifting from table to table. Most people never really observe their surroundings; ask anyone what the person sitting at a nearby table was wearing, and chances are good that they can’t tell you. But I can. I can recite to you the outfits and demeanor of every person in that coffee line, can tell you exactly how many people are sitting at each table, the precise way someone’s shoulders hunch just a little too much, the two people sitting side by side who never say a word, the guy who is careful not to make eye contact with anyone else. I can take in a scene like a photographer might take in a landscape—relax my eyes, analyze the full view all at once, search for the point of interest, and take a mental snapshot to remember the whole thing.   I look for the break in the pattern, the nail that protrudes.   My gaze pauses on a cluster of four boys reading on the couches. I watch them for a while, waiting for signs of conversation or the hint of notes being passed by hand or phone. Nothing. My attention goes to the stairs leading up to the second floor. No doubt other hunters are closing in on this target, too—I have to get to him before anyone else does. My steps quicken as I climb the stairs.   No one is up here, or so it seems. But then I notice the faint sound of two voices at a table in a far corner, tucked behind a pair of bookshelves that make them almost impossible to see from the stairs. I move in closer on silent feet, then peek through the shelves.   A woman is seated at the table, her nose buried in a book. A man stands over her, nervously shuffling his feet. I hold up my phone. Sure enough, both of them are set to Private.   I slip to the side of the wall so that they can’t see me, and listen closely.   “I don’t have until tomorrow night,” the man is saying.   “Sorry,” the woman replies. “But there’s not much I can do. My boss won’t release that kind of money to you without taking extra security measures, not when the police have an arrest warrant for you.”   “You promised me.”   “And I’m sorry, sir.” The woman’s voice is calm and cynical, like she’s had to say this countless times before. “It’s game season. The authorities are on high alert.”   “I have three hundred thousand notes with you. Do you have any idea what that’s exchanging for?”   “Yes. It’s my job to know,” the woman answers in the driest voice I’ve ever heard.   Three hundred thousand notes. That’s about two hundred thousand dollars, at the current exchange rate. High roller, this one. Gambling on Warcross is illegal in the United States; it’s one of the many laws the government has recently passed in a desperate attempt to keep up with technology and cybercrime. If you win a bet on a Warcross match, you win game credits called notes. But here’s the thing—you can either take those notes online or to a physical place, where you meet a teller like this lady. You trade your notes to her. She gives you real cash in return, while taking a cut for her boss.   “It’s my money,” the guy is insisting now.   “We have to protect ourselves. Extra security measures take time. You can come back tomorrow night, and we can exchange half of your notes.”   “I told you, I don’t have until tomorrow night. I need to leave the city.”   The conversation repeats itself all over again. I hold my breath as I listen. The woman has all but confirmed his identity.   My eyes narrow, and my lips turn up into a hungry little smirk. This, right here, is the moment I live for during a hunt—when the bits and pieces I’ve exposed of a trail all converge into a fine point, when I see my target standing physically before me, ripe for the picking. When I’ve solved the puzzle.   Got you.   As their conversation turns more urgent, I tap my phone twice and send out a text message to the police.   Suspect in physical custody.   I get a reply almost immediately.   NYPD ALERTED.   I pull the stun gun out of my backpack. It catches for an instant against the edge of the zipper, making the faintest scraping sound.   The conversation halts. Through the bookshelves, both the man and woman jerk their heads toward me like deer in headlights. The man sees my expression. His face is covered in a sheen of sweat, and his hair is plastered against his forehead. A fraction of a second passes.   I shoot.   He bolts—I miss him by a hair. Good reflexes. The woman darts up from her table, too, but I could care less about her. I rush after him. He hops down the stairs three at a time, nearly falling in his rush, scattering his phone and a bunch of pens behind him. He sprints for the entrance as I reach the first floor. I burst through the revolving glass door right behind him.   We emerge onto the street. People let out startled shouts as the man shoves them aside—he knocks a camera-clicking tourist flat on her back. In one movement, I swing my electric board off my shoulder, drop it, jump on, and slam my heel down as hard as I can. It makes a high-pitched whoosh—I lunge forward, speeding down the sidewalk. The man glances back to see me gaining fast on him. He darts left down the street at a full, panicked run.   I veer in his direction at such a sharp angle that the edge of my board protests against the pavement, leaving a long, black line. I aim my stun gun at the man’s back and shoot.   He shrieks and stumbles. Instantly, he starts struggling up again, but I catch up to him. He grabs my ankle. I stumble, kicking at him. His eyes are wild, his teeth clenched and jaw tight. Out flashes a blade. I see its glint in the light just in time. I kick him off me and roll away right before he can stab at my leg. My hands get a grip on his jacket. I fire the stun gun again, this time at close range. It hits true. His body goes rigid, and he collapses on the pavement, trembling.   I jump on him. My knee presses hard into his back as the man sobs on the ground. The sound of police sirens rounds the bend. A circle of people have gathered around us now, their phones and glasses all out and recording away.   “I didn’t do anything,” the man whimpers over and over through a clenched jaw. His voice comes out garbled by how hard I’m pushing him into the ground. “The lady inside—I can give you her name—”   “Shut it,” I cut him off as I slide handcuffs onto his wrists.   To my surprise, he does. They don’t always listen like that. I don’t relent until a police car pulls up, until I see red and blue lights flashing against the wall. Only then do I get up and back away from him, making sure to hold out my hands so that the cops can see them clearly. My skin tingles from the rush of a successful hunt as I watch the two policemen yank the man onto his feet.   Five thousand dollars! When was the last time I had even half that much money at once? Never. I’ll get to be less desperate for a while—I’ll pay off the rent that I owe, which should calm my landlord down for now. Then I’ll have $1,550 left. It’s a fortune. My mind flips through my other bills. Maybe I can eat something other than instant noodles tonight.   I want to do a victory jump in the air. I’ll be okay. Until the next hunt.   It takes me a moment to realize that the police are walking away with their new captive without even looking in my direction. My smile falters.   “Hey, Officer!” I shout, hurrying after the closer one. “Are you giving me a ride to the station for my payment, or what? Should I just meet you there?”   The officer gives me a look that doesn’t seem to jive with the fact that I just caught them a criminal. She looks exasperated, and dark circles under her eyes tell me she hasn’t gotten much rest. “You weren’t first,” she says.   I startle, blinking. “What?” I say.   “Another hunter phoned in the alert before you.”   For an instant, all I can do is stare at her.   Then I spit out a swear. “What a load of bull. You saw the whole thing go down. You all confirmed my alert!” I hold up my phone so the officer can see the text message I received. Sure enough, that’s when my phone’s battery finally dies.   Not that the proof would’ve made a difference. The officer doesn’t even glance at the phone. “It was just an auto-reply. According to my messages, I received the first call-in from another hunter on location. Bounty goes to the first, no exceptions.” She offers me a sympathetic shrug.   This is the dumbest technicality I’ve ever heard. “The hell it does!” I argue. “Who’s the other hunter? Sam? Jamie? They’re the only other ones canvassing this turf.” I throw my hands up. “You know what—you’re lying, there is no other hunter. You just don’t want to pay out.” I follow her as she turns away. “I saved you from a dirty job—that’s the deal, that’s why any bounty hunter goes after the people you’re too lazy to catch. You owe me this one and you—”   The cop’s partner grabs my arm and shoves me so hard that I nearly fall. “Get back,” he says with a snarl. “Emika Chen, isn’t it?” His other hand is wrapped tightly around the handle of his sheathed gun. “Yeah, I remember you.”   I’m not about to argue with a loaded weapon. “Fine, fine.” I force myself to take a step back and raise my hands in the air. “I’m going, okay? Leaving now.”   “I know you already got some jail time, kid.” He glares at me, his eyes hard and glittering, before joining his partner. “Don’t make me give you another strike.”   I hear the police radio calling them away to another crime scene. The noise around me muffles, and the image in my mind of the five thousand dollars starts to waver until it finally blurs into something I no longer recognize. In the span of thirty seconds, my victory has been tossed into someone else’s hands.

Editorial Reviews

Praise for Warcross:A New York Times BestsellerAn Amazon Editor's Favorite YA Book for Fall 2017 An Amazon September Best of the Month Pick — YA/TeensAn Amazon Best YA Book of 2017“A vibrant, action-packed shot of adrenaline. Lu delivers characters with heart and determination, then sets them loose in a luminously conceived world of infinite possibility.”—Leigh Bardugo, #1 New York Times bestselling author of Six of Crows★ “With a keen eye for detail, Lu (the Young Elites series) vividly imagines a future society where gaming is woven into daily life . . . Think The Hunger Games meets World of Warcraft.”—Publishers Weekly, starred review“Marie Lu’s Warcross is unlike anything I’ve ever read—clever, smart, romantic—yet exploding with color, action, and unrelenting speed. I flew through this book—it’s absolutely fantastic.”—Sabaa Tahir, #1 New York Times bestselling author of An Ember in the Ashes★ “A stellar cyberpunk series opener packed with simmering romance and cinematic thrills.”—Kirkus Reviews, starred review “Clear your schedule, because you won’t stop reading Warcross until you’re done. Addictive, fast-paced, and totally immersive, this book takes you from a futuristic Tokyo on a high-tech tour of incredible virtual worlds. Packed with danger, intrigue, and heart-pounding gameplay, set in a world built with an incredible eye for detail, Warcross is Marie Lu’s best book yet.”—Amie Kaufman, New York Times bestselling author of Illuminae★ “A highly engaging and incredibly exciting science fiction novel for young adults.”—School Library Journal, starred review   “An immersive world that I didn't want to leave. Warcross is pure genius. I'm ready for the sequel!”—Kami Garcia, #1 New York Times bestselling coauthor of Beautiful Creatures and author of The Lovely Reckless“[A]s brightly hued as Emika’s sleeve tattoo and rainbow hair — a fast-paced, fun-filled adventure.”—The Washington Post “The novel is a page-turner, and even those who are not gamers will cheer for Emi as she tries to discover who is genuine and who is not.”—VOYA “The Hunger Games meets Minecraft as a teen hacker enters a virtual reality in Marie Lu’s electrifying novel Warcross.”—Seventeen “[A]n inventive first in a series that showcases Lu’s versatility as a storyteller. . . . Dystopia, dark fantasy, and now a sci-fi thriller—what can’t Lu do? Her boatloads of fans can’t wait to find out.”—Booklist“[A]s visual, kinetic, and furiously paced as any video game. . . . It’s ‘Gleaming the Cube’ meets ‘Strange Days’ meets ‘Blade Runner,’ and it’s a lot of fun.”—The New York Times