Warcross by Marie Lu

29385546Warcross
Marie Lu
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.

I’m upset that I’m no longer reading this book.  I really am.  Marie Lu’s always been a consistently good author but this is probably my favorite of all the books of hers I’ve read.  It was high octane, fast paced and speeding towards a satisfying resolution from the get go.  I wanted to get to the end to see if some of my guesses were right but I didn’t want it to end.

I was, at first, worried that Emika was going to fall into the ‘quirky, whimsical, too cool for her own good’ trope that some main characters are, unfortunately, slotted into but she wasn’t.  She was layered and complex, full of dark places and flaws that made her all the better in my eyes.  I could have done without the frequent mentions of her rainbow colored hair but it’s a small quibble that’s easily forgiven.

Hideo Tanaka’s my new boyfriend.  I’m gonna write my name and his all over my slam books.  But, then again, maybe that’s not the best idea.

The twist (one that I don’t want to go too far into to avoid outright spoilers) left me both incredibly surprised and incredibly deflated (because it involved a character I’d come to love).  I’m intrigued to see how this all plays out in the sequel (that’s too far away) but I’m definitely in this series for however long Marie Lu wants to write it.

 

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Waste of Space by Gina Damico

28473381Waste of Space
Gina Damico
Goodreads

Cram ten hormonal teens into a spaceship and blast off: that’s the premise for the ill-conceived reality show Waste of Space. The kids who are cast know everything about drama—and nothing about the fact that the production is fake. Hidden in a desert warehouse, their spaceship replica is equipped with state-of-the-art special effects dreamed up by the scientists partnering with the shady cable network airing the show. And it’s a hit! Millions of viewers are transfixed. But then, suddenly, all communication is severed. Trapped and paranoid, the kids must figure out what to do when this reality show loses its grip on reality.

Review:

Waste of Space is a harmless, fun little book.  I’ve always enjoyed Gina Damico’s brand of humor and heart so I was pretty excited to read her latest.  This book is a little heavier on the humor and lighter on the heart.  It’s still good but I think the  book suffers just a bit from having such a large cast of characters that you can’t really fall in love with any of them.  There’s just not a lot of background on any of them.  You get brief insights, little visits to their pasts and some slivers of their backgrounds but no one is really fully developed.

Still, I laughed quite a bit.  The book takes the reality television craze and shoves every single stereotypical character into it and revels in how cliche and predictable reality television can be.  There’s the requisite villain, the quiet one, the disabled one, the minority, etc etc.  Everyone is a caricature of their ‘trait’ and, thankfully, the book moves fast enough and doesn’t focus too much on that to make it offensive or boring.

The ending of the book threw me for a bit of a loop because, up until then, it had been a funny and superficial romp.  It had been funny and witty and, at times, poignant but the ending was actually very serious and sad.  It wasn’t bad by any means and I could see where it was coming from as I thought about the whole novel once I’d finished reading but, at the time, it made me tilt my head.

Still, it’s a good, funny book.  Perfect for a quick read or to decompress after reading something heavy and angsty.

Want by Cindy Pon

32333174Want
Cindy Pon
Goodreads

Jason Zhou survives in a divided society where the elite use their wealth to buy longer lives. The rich wear special suits that protect them from the pollution and viruses that plague the city, while those without suffer illness and early deaths. Frustrated by his city’s corruption and still grieving the loss of his mother, who died as a result of it, Zhou is determined to change things, no matter the cost.

With the help of his friends, Zhou infiltrates the lives of the wealthy in hopes of destroying the international Jin Corporation from within. Jin Corp not only manufactures the special suits the rich rely on, but they may also be manufacturing the pollution that makes them necessary.

Yet the deeper Zhou delves into this new world of excess and wealth, the more muddled his plans become. And against his better judgment, Zhou finds himself falling for Daiyu, the daughter of Jin Corp’s CEO. Can Zhou save his city without compromising who he is or destroying his own heart?

Review:

What a good, good book.  I wasn’t sure, at first, how what read as a light plot (boy from the streets is given a chance to infiltrate the ranks of the rich in order to bring them down from the inside) could sustain a three hundred plus page book but Cindy Pon wove a beautifully poignant story with vivid characters and evocative, gorgeous prose that really brought Taipei to life.

One of my favorite aspects of this (and any book, really) is the found family trope.  This book centers around a close knit group of friends who truly care for each other, who love each other and support each other.  There’s no angst, no drama within their circle and nothing that threatens to rip their family apart.  They all need each other for different reasons and I felt those emotions to the bone.  It was beautifully written.

This was one of the few books I’ve read where I wanted it to be longer. I  would have loved a few hundred extra pages that focused on Pon’s stellar cast of supporting characters (Iris and Lingyi specifically) but I was glad to get what I got and I’m even more pleased that a sequel is in the works though it’s far out.

 

All Systems Red, by Martha Wells

32758901All Systems Red (The Murderbot Diaries #1)
Martha Wells
Goodreads

In a corporate-dominated spacefaring future, planetary missions must be approved and supplied by the Company. Exploratory teams are accompanied by Company-supplied security androids, for their own safety.

But in a society where contracts are awarded to the lowest bidder, safety isn’t a primary concern.

On a distant planet, a team of scientists are conducting surface tests, shadowed by their Company-supplied ‘droid — a self-aware SecUnit that has hacked its own governor module, and refers to itself (though never out loud) as “Murderbot.” Scornful of humans, all it really wants is to be left alone long enough to figure out who it is.

But when a neighboring mission goes dark, it’s up to the scientists and their Murderbot to get to the truth.

Review

The blurbs for this novella claim that All Systems Red is a sci-fi adventure that blends Iain Banks’ Culture series with HBO’s Westworld and whatever, if that matters to people, so be it. I haven’t read the Culture series but I have watched and loved Westworld, and saw very little of this in it, beyond the obvious “robots with human emotions” angle. Murderbot is more Robocop than Dolores, anyway, so whatever, book blurbs, whatever.

THIS NOVELLA IS FANTASTIC ALL ON ITS OWN.

Murderbot is fantastic. Team Humans is fantastic. The adventure and mystery is tightly written with enough suspense to keep things moving but not so much that I got frustrated. Honestly, Murderbot’s apathy, social anxiety, and confusion made for a very interesting and often amusing POV. And that ending!!!

I want more Murderbot.

I need more Murderbot.

2018 IS MUCH TOO FAR AWAY FOR MORE MURDERBOT.