I’ve been shouting about Wildcard (Warcross #2) at the top of my lungs (metaphorically though sometimes literally) ever since I finished Warcross. Needless to say, I was ecstatic to finally be able to read the finale to this duology.
Please note that this is a spoiler-free review for Wildcard. However, there are some spoilers for Warcross which were hard to avoid as I was writing this review.
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?
Emika Chen was propelled to international fame as the wildcard who was chosen to compete alongside the Phoenix Riders. Under different circumstances, this would be her dream. However, Emika discovered the true intention of the NeuroLink algorithm, which allowed a user to link up to the virtual reality world, and its devastating consequences. Now, she must find a way to stop the NeuroLink algorithm before it took over the world. The problem was that NeuroLink was invented by Hideo Tanaka, Emika’s childhood hero and love interest. Hideo Tanaka is the CEO of Henka games, known for the creation of Warcross, a video game that took the world by storm. After his brother went missing. Hideo was inspired to create the world of Warcross and the NeuroLink technology that allowed humans to interact seamlessly with the digital world. However, his ambitions went a bit too far.
Emika’s character was all right. Don’t get me wrong, I loved Emika in the first book- I was touched by her determination to succeed and I enjoyed reading about her relationship with her father. However she came across as a bit indecisive and passive in this second book, especially in the first half.
In general, I liked the characters in this sequel, particularly Hideo and a few other characters who were morally grey and multi-dimensional. I liked getting to know the secondary characters a bit better, such as the Phoenix Riders, especially towards the end of the novel.
In Wildcard, the aftermath of NeuroLink algorithm became apparent. Old questions were answered while new ones were raised. The plot was just as mind-bending as the first book. I loved that just as I thought I knew what was going on, the rug was pulled out from under me! The story kept me engaged from beginning to end. There was also a rich backstory which kept me wanting more. The pacing was spot on, the plot advancing steadily all the way until the end. I finished this book in a matter of days.
That being said, I was expecting there to be more action and more Warcross in this book, similar to the first novel. However, there was a lot of dialogue- very intriguing and plot-advancing dialogue- but still, it was dialogue! Lots of scenes and flashbacks where people sat around a table or stood in a room and just… talked. There were some action scenes later on in the book, especially towards the climax. However, overall I was satisfied with the progression of the plot and the ending in this book.
I liked the writing in this book. The descriptions allowed us to envision the virtual world without being overly elaborate. Sometimes it was confusing to me whether we were in the virtual world or the real one but I think that was the desired effect in this book.
I loved the themes in this book: What would happen when the boundary between the real world and virtual reality blurred? Would you exchange free will for a safer world? The story explored the possibilities of artificial intelligence in an imaginative way.
The Bottom Line: 3/5 stars!
Wildcard was a fast-paced roller-coaster-ride of a book with plenty of moments where you go, “Whoa, what just happened?” Despite being a bit dialogue-heavy and the occasional sentimentality on the part of the main character, it was a great finale to this duology.