Book review · Sci-fi · Young adult

Review: Warcross by Marie Lu

WarcrossI have very mixed feelings on this book, and it was difficult to decide a rating. This review will be spoiler-free, unless you decide to read the blacked-out parts.

I didn’t have high expectations, because I didn’t love the previous books by this author – Legend was good but nothing surprising, and The Young Elites was just bad (Your Italy Renaissance AU will always be terrible if you don’t know anything about Italy to begin with… do your research, writers).
Warcross surprised me, because I liked it, but I didn’t like everything about it.

For the most part, Warcross was an average book. I loved the beginning and some aspects of the futuristic technology, but I was never really interested in the romance.
This book repeatedly failed to address an obvious aspect of the worldbuilding (Does Warcros have any side effects? Because that sounds too good), and while the author knew what she was doing, it felt unusual to me that the characters never thought about that.

The pacing slowed after Emika (main character) met Hideo (creator of Warcross). I liked to read about them, but I didn’t love them, and I don’t think they were memorable characters for most of the book. I kind of hate the “I have a criminal record and I will angst about it, but then the reader discovers I got it because I had to defend innocent people” trope. It’s overdone. You can allow your character to do bad things for the wrong reasons, as long as these make sense. But from The Young Elites I already knew that I didn’t like how Lu writes antiheroines.
The side characters – especially the Phoenix Riders – were underdeveloped and almost one-dimensional. Their scenes were boring, despite all the action. The “tournament” aspect of the book was a disappointment.

But the book wasn’t disappointing. Why?
The ending – that’s my favorite kind of ending. I’ve seen it only two times, in two of my favorite books of all times. The well-intentioned extremist is my favorite trope.
It’s also extremely difficult to pull off, and I don’t think she quite got it.
There were two ways the story could go:

  • a predictable, solid ending
  • a definitely unpredictable and much less solid ending.

I liked that she didn’t take the easy way out. It definitely makes for a memorable book and sets up a lot of interesting things for the sequel.
But.

For that trope to work, you have to show a realistic, solid motivation for the character to have acted that way.
And she didn’t; I don’t buy that.
I do think that baiting your readers with the predictable Zero mystery to hide the Hideo twist was a genius move, but it also meant that everyone guessed at least half of the final twist..
I’m not complaining, it’s been months since I was surprised by a book. But while this is my favorite kind of ending, and it surprised me, it wasn’t done well.

Acqua’s spoilery thoughts on the ending:
The main problem is that the brother thing didn’t feel like a good enough motivation. The other times I’ve seen this plot twist, it was motivated by massacres, not by the disappearance of one person and the rising rate of crimes. Hideo should have had a more difficult past, or lived in a worse world.

The ending wasn’t executed well, but I loved all of it. If I had liked the book more before the climax, I would have rated Warcross five stars despite its flaws. But the beginning and the ending were the only parts I really liked, so… that’s not going to happen.

My rating: ★★★★

Have you read Warcross? What did you think of its ending? And which is your favorite book by this author?

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