A down-and-out teen, days from eviction, competes in the championships of the world’s most popular virtual reality game.
Emika Chen, 18, has been on her own for six years, living in poverty with a juvenile record, supporting herself by bounty hunting. She survives on ramen, with $13 and a debt of $3,450 to her name, and few joys: memories of her dead father, her crush on the world-famous 21-year-old inventor Hideo Tanaka, and her passion for Hideo’s game, Warcross. Universally adored, Warcross is an immersive battle game with CGI–ready virtual combats. When Emi exploits a Warcross bug in a last-ditch attempt to make some cash, she glitches into the game. Suddenly, she’s a media darling, and Hideo Tanaka himself summons her to Japan for a top-secret job. Whisked away on a private jet, Emi is flabbergasted by the perks of her new position—one of which is membership on one of the world’s top pro teams. Emi (an American with an implied Chinese heritage) grows fond of her multiethnic team (with a wheelchair-using captain), but could one of them be a saboteur? Brief shoutouts to Lu’s Legend series will intrigue ardent fans, though they don’t seem to imply a connection between the worlds.
A stellar cyberpunk series opener packed with simmering romance and cinematic thrills. (Science fiction. 13-adult)