A Lot or a Little?
What you will—and won't—find in this book.
Warcross explores how video games and social media might evolve in the near future. The novel deals with issues of privacy and surveillance.
Keeping secrets from friends and family is dangerous and unproductive. Friends and teammates try to understand one another's needs and provide support in difficult times.
Positive Role Models
Emika Chen is smart, resourceful, brave, and highly competent. A bounty hunter, she uses her hacking skills against criminals. She's motivated yet impulsive, and sometimes finds herself in over her head.
Violence & Scariness
A light mix of online and real-life mayhem. An assassin wounds a bodyguard with a gunshot. An explosion injures a number of tournament contestants.
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Sex, Romance & Nudity
Em and Hideo are physically attracted to each other and spend a lot of time flirting. In one scene, they make out and and he "pins me against the couch" and she senses his thoughts and emotions (they have that mutual ability) -- "glimpses and glimmers of his hands against my skin, running along bare thighs" -- until he pulls away, saying, "I'm getting you into more than you than you bargained for." In another, they soak in an onsen, a Japanese hot spring, at his parents' home. Em takes her clothes off in the bathhouse and comes out in a robe, while Hideo is already in the hot spring. Em narrates: "Hideo looks politely away, giving me time to remove my robe and sink into the hot water." He "leans in to plant kisses on my neck" and pulls her close. "I can't remember when we start kissing or when we stop, or when he leans against me, made me weak, whispering my name." The scene then shifts to Hideo revealing a tragic memory of his brother.
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A dozen or so instances of "hell" and one or two of "bastard" and "s--t."
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Drinking, Drugs & Smoking
Celebrating gamers drink alcoholic beverages, including champagne.
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Parents Need to Know
Parents need to know that Warcross is the first volume of a futuristic cyberthriller by Marie Lu, author of The Young Elites and Legend. There are a few violent scenes: video game mayhem, a real-life assassination attempt, an explosion that injures some young contestants. Strong language is mostly "hell," with "s--t" once or twice. Gamers celebrate with champagne. Two teens flirt and share a few passionate embraces, including in one brief scene when they're submerged in a hot spring without their clothes on, with only kissing described.
Is It Any Good?
Cyberpunk fell out of favor for a while, but this futuristic thriller jump-starts the genre and sends it careering in a promising new direction. Marie Lu has proven her skills with dystopian fiction and pseudo-medieval fantasy, and now she displays a steady hand with virtual reality in Warcross. Lu has created a winning protagonist in Em, and her perceptive and plucky narrative voice keeps the story moving, even when the action turns a little talky. Suspense and romance take a while to rev up, but eventually Warcross is firing on all cylinders. Readers should be aware that the book ends with a cliffhanger, but it's a doozy, one almost guaranteed to compel fans to return for the second installment.
Did we miss something on diversity?
Research shows a connection between kids' healthy self-esteem and positive portrayals in media. That's why we've added a new "Diverse Representations" section to our reviews that will be rolling out on an ongoing basis. You can help us help kids by suggesting a diversity update.