No spoilers in this rapid review of Wildcard by Marie Lu. (There will, however, be spoilers for the first book in this series.) I really liked it and give it 4.25 stars! Warcross was my favorite book released last year, so this sequel had a lot to live up to. I’d say Lu mostly delivered in this series finale. The plot took turns I never would’ve guessed, and, in my opinion, the wrap-up at the very end couldn’t have been more perfect.
When we left off in Warcross, Emika had received two shocks. (1) Hideo had nefarious plans for the tech lenses he’d given away to the vast majority of the world population. (2) Zero—the supposed villain Emika was tracking—was Hideo’s brother Sasuke who was kidnapped years ago.
So the question I was left to ponder at the end of book 1 was, who’s the true bad guy: Hideo or Zero? Both or neither? Beneath Hideo’s layers of perfect—the looks, the brains, the charm—lurked a young man still hurting from losing his brother years ago. And behind Zero’s dark mask was someone who might have suspected Hideo’s sinister plans all along.
In this second installment, we slowly learn where Zero/Sasuke has been and what he’s been up to these past years. We see the aftermath of Hideo’s involuntary social experiment. And we find out what Emika and the Phoenix Riders are doing to try to set things right.
The first 50 percent of Wildcard was flawless. It hit every note perfectly as we caught up with all the characters and slipped back into the story. Moreover, Lu gave me just enough Emika/Hideo interaction to satisfy me yet keep me wanting more.
Believe it or not, the climax is where I felt a snag in the storytelling. It felt long to me. Too long, in fact. Lu is dealing with complex subject matter, so maybe that’s why it seemed long-winded. (Lu is one smart cookie to come up with all of this, by the way!) And don’t get me wrong; I enjoyed the complexity. There was a lot to process to piece together what was going on. Thus this part of the story dragged a bit, and that’s unusual for the pinnacle of the story.
Yet, as I mentioned above, the first half of the book and the wrap-up after the climax were both awesome. I was content and assigned an initial rating of 4.5 stars to Wildcard because I felt the end was so fitting. After I reflect back on this finale, however, I’ve decided to take the rating down a notch. While I really enjoyed the book overall, I’m not quite as excited as I was when I finished its predecessor. So I’m going to go with 4.25 stars for my final rating.
I absolutely recommend this series! It’s a fun tale all around, with unique ideas and plenty of twists and turns. And Marie Lu has a candid, readable writing style. She gets her ideas across and her world built without a lot of flowery language. When done right—like Lu does—this can be the most effective writing style, especially in a sci-fi tale like Wildcard.
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