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Warcross by Marie Lu

Warcross by Marie LuWarcross by Marie Lu
Series: Warcross #1
Published by G.P. Putnam's Sons Books for Young Readers on September 12th 2017
Genres: Science-Fiction, Young Adult
Pages: 368
Goodreads

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 players who bet on the game illegally. But the bounty hunting world is a competitive one, and survival has not been easy. Needing 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.

2 Stars

Once again, I don’t get it.

I don’t know if it’s because I am currently fully burned out of YA or if Marie Lu just does not connect with me, but I truly do not understand the hype around Warcross. This novel is the epitome of ‘amazing premise, bad execution’. I was looking for a Japanese version of Ready Player One, and indeed the two novels are quite similar in plot, but Warcross didn’t even come close to Ready Player One in suspense, thrill or character development.

The book centres around Emika Chen, a young hacker and bounty hunter in NYC. As an orphan, she is struggling to make ends meet and dedicates her time to catching Warcross criminals. Warcross is a fully-immersive virtual reality combat game created by young billionaire, Hideo Tanaka, and the championships are watched by everyone around the world. When Emika accidentally hacks herself into the game she gets offered an undercover job as a player and spy in the game.

The premise may not be the most original but that doesn’t matter because it works. Competitions are one of my absolute favourite tropes in books (see Ready Player One, The Hunger Games, Wolf by Wolf, The Scorpio Races etc.) and so I found it surprising I didn’t like this book more. I should have loved it.

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The Rose & the Dagger by Renée Ahdieh

The Rose & the Dagger by Renée AhdiehThe Rose & the Dagger by Renée Ahdieh
Series: The Wrath & the Dawn #2
Published by G.P. Putnam's Sons Books for Young Readers on April 26th 2016
Genres: Fantasy, Retelling, Young Adult
Pages: 416
Goodreads

The darker the sky, the brighter the stars.

In a land on the brink of war, Shahrzad is forced from the arms of her beloved husband, the Caliph of Khorasan. She once thought Khalid a monster—a merciless killer of wives, responsible for immeasurable heartache and pain—but as she unraveled his secrets, she found instead an extraordinary man and a love she could not deny. Still, a curse threatens to keep Shazi and Khalid apart forever.

Now she’s reunited with her family, who have found refuge in the desert, where a deadly force is gathering against Khalid—a force set on destroying his empire and commanded by Shazi’s spurned childhood sweetheart. Trapped between loyalties to those she loves, the only thing Shazi can do is act. Using the burgeoning magic within her as a guide, she strikes out on her own to end both this terrible curse and the brewing war once and for all. But to do it, she must evade enemies of her own to stay alive.

The saga that began with The Wrath and the Dawn takes its final turn as Shahrzad risks everything to find her way back to her one true love again.

3.5 Stars

It was because they were two parts of a whole. He did not belong to her. And she did not belong to him. It was never about belonging to someone. It was about belonging together.

This book was so difficult for me to rate and review for a couple of reasons:
1. I loved The Wrath & the Dawn and it was one of my favourite books of 2015 so I was extremely pumped for The Rose & the Dagger and had really high expectations.
2. I was in a reading slump when I read this and I never know how much that impacts the way I perceive a book.
3. This book took me forever to read. More than a month if I remember correctly which is very unusual for me, especially when I didn’t have university during that time.

Having said that, I did really enjoy The Rose & the Dagger and I wouldn’t call it a disappointment but it did leave me feeling…underwhelmed. In hindsight I now wonder, if perhaps I remember TWatD as being better than it actually was or if this book was in fact not as good as the first one. I don’t know, but as it stands, I enjoyed The Rose & the Dagger and consider it a worthy follow-up, but I didn’t love it.

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The Wrath & the Dawn by Renée Ahdieh

The Wrath & the Dawn by Renée AhdiehThe Wrath & the Dawn by Renée Ahdieh
Series: The Wrath & the Dawn #1
Published by G.P. Putnam's Sons Books for Young Readers on May 12th 2015
Genres: Fantasy, Young Adult
Pages: 388
Goodreads

One Life to One Dawn.

In a land ruled by a murderous boy-king, each dawn brings heartache to a new family. Khalid, the eighteen-year-old Caliph of Khorasan, is a monster. Each night he takes a new bride only to have a silk cord wrapped around her throat come morning. When sixteen-year-old Shahrzad's dearest friend falls victim to Khalid, Shahrzad vows vengeance and volunteers to be his next bride. Shahrzad is determined not only to stay alive, but to end the caliph's reign of terror once and for all.

Night after night, Shahrzad beguiles Khalid, weaving stories that enchant, ensuring her survival, though she knows each dawn could be her last. But something she never expected begins to happen: Khalid is nothing like what she'd imagined him to be. This monster is a boy with a tormented heart. Incredibly, Shahrzad finds herself falling in love. How is this possible? It's an unforgivable betrayal. Still, Shahrzad has come to understand all is not as it seems in this palace of marble and stone. She resolves to uncover whatever secrets lurk and, despite her love, be ready to take Khalid's life as retribution for the many lives he's stolen. Can their love survive this world of stories and secrets?

Inspired by A Thousand and One Nights, The Wrath and the Dawn is a sumptuous and enthralling read from beginning to end.

5 Stars

Dear Ms. Ahdieh,

I’m unsure of how you did it. Whatever magic you used to pry open my brain and look inside, I’d like to have it as well. Because this book was written for me, it is, in many ways, my dream book and encompasses everything I want in a novel. So, I would really like to know how you did it.

You may have other people fooled but this is not a debut novel. This CAN’T be a debut novel because, well, THE WRITING IS PERFECT.

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