by Marie Lu

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Last Updated September 5, 2023.

Wildcard by Marie Lu is the sequel to the immersive science fiction thriller Warcross. The novel takes place in a dystopian future world where Warcross, a virtual reality roleplaying game that has become an international phenomenon, is the social and economic hub of society.

The novel begins only three days after the end of its prequel. After a thrilling Warcross Championship, 21-year-old hacker Emika discovers a hideous truth about the ultimate motive of the game’s creator and her lover, Hideo. The Neurolink that powers the game and has contributed much to society in terms of advancement is a dangerous tool for Hideo. By upgrading the lenses used to log in to the game, Hideo can manipulate most of the population. Emika discovers that Hideo’s ultimate plan is to use his algorithm for mass mind control. Hideo thinks that by having control over the masses, he can reduce crime and create a more stable society. This discovery leads Emika on a path to stop Hideo, despite her love for him.

As the story unfolds, Emika is confronted with new dangers. She now has a bounty on her head, and her only option for survival is to seek protection. The mysterious hacker and leader of the underground Black Coat organization, Zero, offers to protect Emika in exchange for her help. Together they join forces to stop Hideo from controlling the population. During her time with the ruthless Black Coats, Emika uncovers secrets regarding Zero’s past and identity.

Throughout the novel, Emika struggles with feeling trapped between her love for Hideo and Zero’s plan to shut him down. Emika understands Hideo’s motives for creating the algorithm, but she knows that this type of power can be catastrophic in the wrong hands. In this way, love and morality are opposing forces that Emika must face. As the story comes to an end, surprising truths are revealed, and Emika finds herself mixed up in a complicated world of betrayal. Emika quickly learns that all is not what it seems. People are not simply good or evil, and it is often that gray area that reveals the most important truths about humanity.

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