Teen Book Review: Warcross (Warcross #1) by Marie Lu

Title: Warcross
Author: Marie Lu
Series: Warcross #1
Publication Date: October 4th, 2018
Publisher: Penguin Books Ltd.
Genre: YA
Pages: 402
ISBN: 0241321441
Source: Publisher

Synopsis (from Publisher):

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. Struggling to make ends meet, teenage hacker Emika Chen works as a bounty hunter, tracking down players who bet on the game illegally. When Emika hacks into the game illegally, she's convinced she'll be arrested, and is shocked when 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. 

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. 

Amazon | Goodreads

Marie Lu is the #1 New York Times bestselling author of the Legend trilogy and The Young Elites trilogy. She graduated from the University of Southern California and jumped into the video game industry, working for Disney Interactive Studios as a Flash artist. Now a full-time writer, she spends her spare time reading, drawing, playing Assassin’s Creed, and getting stuck in traffic. She lives in Los Angeles, California (see above: traffic), with one husband, one Chihuahua mix, and two Pembroke Welsh corgis.

If you fancy being transported into a fictional world within a fictional world, this book is for you. If you like a main character who can really show others who’s boss just by being her smart self, this book is for you. In fact, if you enjoy something as general as amazing, super descriptive and creative writing, then this book is most definitely for you.
Warcross was written for you, my dear fellow book lover, as it was made for me.
It follows Emika Chen - rainbow-colored-hair, all around super chick – around a futuristically situated world where a virtual reality game, the one-and-only famed “Warcross”, becomes more of a reality for some than real life actually is. She’s a bounty hunter, a hacker, and most importantly a teenager trying to make ends meet after her father dies with massive amounts of debt leftover to pay.
Warcross, to her, was a way of life. Without it she wouldn’t get paid and probably would be rotting away on a street corner. That’s why when she accidentally glitches herself into the next Warcross championship, life as she knows it… will never be the same after Hideo Tanaka (aka Warcross creator, aka genius, aka most times annoying, aka predictable love interest but overall a puppy who cooks and takes care of his parents, also, he is a liar and that makes him real but so infuriating) calls her as a wildcard in the next games. She is suddenly thrown into a darker world, with the promise of the light at the end of the tunnel being just beyond her reach (also 10 million dollars which made me go on a mental rant because c'mon Hideo, why?! Just 'cause you're rich doesn't mean you can bribe people with money, geez).
I went into this book as blindly as you can get. Seriously, I didn’t even read the description. At first, I thought this would be a slightly-twisted version of Ready Player One because when it started mentioning glasses and virtual stuff I was all like… !!!. Turns out I wasn’t close. The two books touch on some similar technology but they cannot be compared in the slightest, story-wise. This is a YA, pure YA.
The thing I loved about this book was the immense detail Marie Lu used to describe the world. I have no knowledge whatsoever in coding and programming, even less with VR, but it made me want to understand Emika and the decisions she had to make throughout the story. This book was like a pure shot of adrenaline, all set in an alternate world where technology rules. Even though in reality, I’m not a huge fan of unnecessary tech but that’s beside the point. There are also lots of quotable quotes (??) in this book that I want to reuse.
The ending though!! I have to say that my senses have been honed down to a sharp point when it comes to guessing endings and plot twists (because I’ve read so much, in so many genres) but man… this ending caught me off guard.
Half-completely (hey I guessed Sasuke would make a comeback and he did, I just never imagined him ACTUALLY BEING ZERO and wanting to murder his brother).
I don’t want to spoil anything else so I won’t say anything else about it. Just, wow. That ending.
Also, major cliffhanger so beware.
Anyways, this is great for when you’re in the mood of something not quite like any other books in YA but still want that teenager-y feel to the story. I found myself falling in love with the idea of the game, not so much with the characters (though Emika was pretty great, she just seemed to be conveniently placed throughout). Also, be prepared to fangirl over the Phoenix Riders because they’re absolutely amazing and the diversity is insane. I give this a whopping 5 stars.
Great job you genius Marie Lu. Now give me the sequel, pretty please.


Teen Book Review: Eliza and Her Monsters by Francesca Zappia

Title: Eliza and Her Monsters
Author: Francesca Zappia
Publication Date: May 30th, 2017
Publisher: Greenwillow Books
Genre: YA
Pages: 385
ISBN: 0062290134
Source: Publisher

Synopsis (from Publisher):

Her story is a phenomenon. Her life is a disaster.

In the real world, Eliza Mirk is shy, weird, and friendless. Online, she’s LadyConstellation, the anonymous creator of the wildly popular webcomic Monstrous Sea. Eliza can’t imagine enjoying the real world as much as she loves the online one, and she has no desire to try.

Then Wallace Warland, Monstrous Sea’s biggest fanfiction writer, transfers to her school. Wallace thinks Eliza is just another fan, and as he draws her out of her shell, she begins to wonder if a life offline might be worthwhile.

But when Eliza’s secret is accidentally shared with the world, everything she’s built—her story, her relationship with Wallace, and even her sanity—begins to fall apart.

Amazon | Goodreads

YA author. Debut novel MADE YOU UP available now. ELIZA AND HER MONSTERS coming May 30, 2017. The Children of Hypnos serial available on Tumblr and Wattpad.

The only reason I’m giving this a 3-star rating is because there are as many cons as there are pros.

First thing you should know is… I was hyped coming into this book.

Like, full blown HYPED.

I mean c’mon. A massive online presence, fandoms webcomics and fanfiction, AND anxiety/depression finally being portrayed in a sort-of-true way (at least closer than how many other books get it)?!? All in one book?!?


I mean yes, they were all in here and were a major part of the storyline and main character, but no as in I did not agree with HOW they were implemented into the book and… most else. I have NOTHING against this author or the story-line and writing in general, just didn't love the book.
For starters, the family dynamic was completely wrecked. See now, this book follows Eliza Mirk as she navigates her supposed “horrible” reality while juggling online life as the creator of the world-famous webcomic ‘Monstrous Sea’. Throughout the book I found myself getting FURIOUS (and I admit, a little uncomfortable) each time Eliza pushed her family away.

I get it, okay? You want to be happy and left alone to live life on your terms but wowowow do you HAVE to be so rude to your parents and brothers?? Her parents were seriously just trying to have a good relationship with their hard-to-reach teenage daughter!! Who spends more time on her phone and computer than with her own family!! Her brothers clearly just wanted to connect and help their sister!! Instead of being seen as annoying, uncaring little kids!!

I couldn’t help thinking that the author wanted to get some pent-up feelings of her own out and decided to throw it in a YA, for good measure.

I understand how a lot of families are really this way. Parents disagreeing with the amount of time their children spend on electronic devices/internet and the children (most times) getting mad over said parents not being able to understand how they just connect better with people who get it and like the same things they like on the internet. It’s a real situation and it gets out of hand. Just don’t end the book with the characters staying this way if you want good feedback from readers.


At least Eliza found help, sorted out her anxiety issue a bit, and TRIED to connect better at the end but she still saw her parents as the bad guys when they really weren’t. The one pushing away and causing problems was herself.


Back to Eliza’s parents though…

They would have understood why ‘Monstrous Sea’ meant so much to her if they’d asked before buuuuut Eliza could have also stepped up and said something – anything – instead of sulking and hating them more. It’s difficult to overcome but we need a character who looks difficult in the eyes and conquers his/her fears.

Gosh I really didn’t like Eliza for this.

She was selfish in a way anxiety and depression makes you selfish (and that’s okay for the beginning of a book as long as she eventually gets help and learns to deal better, right? Which does happen, by the way so that’s good) yet her bitterness added unnecessary fuel to the flame.
Another thing, the characters were astronomically boring. I especially disliked how her younger brothers – Church and Sully – were portrayed. The author tried to add dimension to their traits by including what makes them unique (like being good at singing and math, for example) but it only added to the list of what they enjoy, not who they are as people. Singing and math don’t shape you as a person!!

And don’t even get me started on Wallace. Number one fanfiction writer of her comic, this meaty football-playing looking guy who can’t talk in public - and resembles a puppy when he’s alone - so he resorts to writing out notes to Eliza at school. He becomes a totally selfish boyfriend (real traits!!) at the end of the book. When we first meet him he is seen as a mute fanboy, then turns into a relatable writer with a confusing past, then somebody I just wouldn’t get along with, ever.  Not to mention the fact that she sometimes uses him as a crutch and he suspects during the end (when he gets mad, I got mad but then I agreed because I would probably be mad as well) but does nothing else about it.
All problems in this book are blamed on Eliza’s so-called Monsters.
That’s not true though, the real problem is Eliza.
Honestly I disliked Eliza more and more as each chapter went on. I know it makes me sound shallow and an unemotional person but at this point, I’m not even ashamed to admit it.


I sympathized with her struggle to stay hidden and her love for her creation but I did not sympathize after her parents (unknowingly and out of pure love for their daughter, though yes, they should have asked first) gave out her secret and she spiraled down into this abyss where she suddenly contemplates driving off the same cliff Wallace’s father died from.


Nearly every single person (clearly not counting Wallace ‘cause he was too busy being angry) she encountered in real life that was a fan of LadyConstellation and ‘Monstrous Sea’ would either allow her space or compliment her comic. There is nothing (!!!) wrong with people telling you they liked something you created. In fact, try saying thank you for a change. If it wasn’t for them she wouldn’t have enough money to pay herself through college in the first place.
Now enough of whatever I just ranted on… This book was relatable in ways many other books are not.

Eliza’s therapy scenes were amazing. Her therapist gave great advice and never looked down on her client (something that doesn’t occur most of the time in real life) while allowing her to look at life in another angle. I liked this, I really did. It made sense while her comments and help allowed Eliza to process something new and finally change for the better. These parts got me emotional and earned a FULL STAR.

The dynamic of the book and the drawings of the comic placed here and there was absolutely GENIUS. So yes, another FULL STAR.

Half of the last star was because I understood how she felt most of the time (besides the family dynamic I just ranted on a full novel – basically – about). Eliza was at ease with herself the most when she didn’t have to think of herself physically and she was just LadyConstellation, full-blown creator and artist. She did what she loved and people loved it in return. What a better way to live, huh? Her depression was written spot-on. Everything from the sudden outbursts to the loneliness. If only she realized the world around her was not the one to blame. She was. I don’t think she ever realized this though.

The other half of the last star was only ‘cause I thought it was really cool of the author to include the fact that Eliza is a fangirl herself (SO COOL HOW THIS BOOK/COMIC SHE IS OBSESSED WITH ACTUALLY EXISTS – aka the author posts chapters on Wattpad) of the famous ‘Children of Hypnos’ series. Very emotional, very realistically portrayed.
What a lovely way to end a book.