New teen’s novel a great depiction of the relationship between humans and tech

The cover for Warcross, alongside other novels situated for teens McGinn recommends.

New York Times bestselling young-adult author Marie Lu’s Warcross, released in 2017, is set in a world situated around a virtual reality game of the same name. This world Lu has come up with does not feel far-fetched. It feels realistic.

For starters, how does the game work?

It all begins with the Neurolink: wireless glasses with metal arms and earphones. You know how whenever you have a dream you believe it’s real? Hideo Tenka uses this premise to create virtual reality.

The Neurolink glasses help your brain render virtual worlds that enable you to do things like fly around and travel through ice caves.

Jobs are also created through Neurolink. One character, named Hammie, explains that because of her Ma being good at playing Warcross, she is able to buy a house and send her daughter to university. The protagonist of Warcross, Emika Chen, lives in New York and tries to make a living by locating hackers of the Neurolink. This is a real job because there are so many hackers in the world, officers are too busy to locate all of them.

The Neurolink also allows downloads, kind of like how we have Netflix and iPhones.

But the dark side is a network called ‘The Dark World’, which allows people to trade notes for drugs, weapons and even illegal power-ups to the game, some of which were invented by outside coders.

A sophisticated set of code is needed for your character to be invisible or else your entire profile on your Neurolink, from your name, address and even bank information can be compromised.

There are also auctions for assassins, promising reward money for contract killers, sometimes for personal reasons like revenge, or for authority figures like politicians.


Tenka found out the brain capabilities of the glasses are able to locate when someone might have a violent desire and manipulate the brain to prevent it, and Tenka would dictate what constitutes this manipulation. Not only would an abusive past give a person the desire to make crime preventable, but if this idea came up in politics there would be two sides that would oppose the other’s side entirely. This is because there are some who prefer freedom of expression over violence, and vice versa. For example, when Chen was in high school, she fought back against a classmate who was bullying a friend of hers but if the technology were to be implemented, the desire to save her friend would be negated.


Marie Lu’s Warcross creates a realistic technological world that channels the desire of humans, creates understandable jobs, and has a hidden evil. You can find Warcross in the teen section at your local library or bookstore.

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William juggles all sorts of skills and dreams in a panic to find what sticks: He's an author, movie and book reviewer, voice actor and YouTuber. He's also the journalist who retrieved Monster by Mistake, a 3D Canadian cartoon which went missing from the public for over 10 years. He is the author of the YA book The Blacktop Brothers and its four sequels, and has been reviewing movies and books weekly on his website, Weldon Witness, since 2014. His main hobbies are sleeping in, speeding through books, taking pride in every article, and entertainment journalism is his favourite