First and foremost, I enjoyed this book. I liked the pacing, the romance (though, perhaps, rushed), and the high-stakes virtual reality game that ended in people losing their ability to make their own decisions. I think it was interesting to combine technology with the question of how freewill relates to our identity as humans.
But, I did still have some issues.
I’m all for filling in details with my own imagination, but I wanted more. I wanted to know more about the games, the Dark World, and why DJ Ren joined Zero. Why did Zero choose to solve everything with violence, for that matter? What happened to the other recruits Emika met at the wild card ceremonies? There were a lot of questions left unanswered that I’m hoping will be solved with a sequel. And, though I think it’s hard to hold out on your audience and hope they’ll stick with it for a second (or third) novel, I’m still interested.
Even the ending, which didn’t surprise me in the least was something I could deal with. Because the things that didn’t work didn’t ruin the entire novel. I’m still curious about how Emika’s story will play out. Part of that, I believe, is due to the strong backbone present in the scenes that follow.
Once more, be warned. Spoilers Ahead.
Emika is recruited and hired by her billionaire hero to stop the mysterious Zero from ruining the Warcross championship games and harming the audience watching.
Inciting Incident. Emika glitches herself into the opening ceremony of Warcross, a virtual game similar to capture the flag that the whole world plays.
Complication. Emika thinks that she’ll be arrested for interrupting the games. Her identity is now known to the whole world. And, she is getting calls from Hideo Tanaka, the creator of Warcross. Turning Point, Hideo flies her to Tokyo and pays off her debts.
Crisis. Should she take the job or not? If she does, she’ll probably make more money than she knows what to do with. But, her safety might be at risk. And, what if she’s not good enough?
Climax. She accepts the job and passes Hideo’s first test of her skills.
Resolution. Hideo transferred $10,000,000 to hold in Emika’s account. Should she succeed as a bounty hunter and catch Zero, the money is her’s.
The first chapter, while establishing Emika’s struggles with poverty, are a great example of setting up backstory in the middle of action. It doesn’t even include the overall inciting incident of the story. Yet, it clearly sets up Emika as an active agent of her world. Though she struggles, she is resourceful, hardworking, and deals with conflict in a way that promises a story.
Emika must train for the games, balance a budding romance with Hideo, and try and figure out who Zero is all at the same time.
Inciting Incident. Emika is chosen as the first wild card pick of the games to join the Phoenix Riders. She sees Zero watching over the ceremony.
Complication. She’s training and trying to figure out who Zero is. Turning Point: Emika begins to suspect DJ Ren and follows him to the Dark World where she sees Zero.
Crisis. Zero makes her an offer. She must decide, should she join him? Or, should she keep going after him and risk her safety?
Climax. She refuses his offer.
Resolution. Phoenix Riders win the game by a millisecond. The news of Emika’s relationship with Hideo has been leaked. Her teammates are mad at her and no longer trust her.
Though she’s realizes the stakes she’s up against, Emika decides to recruit others to help her take down Zero in the championship game, only to realize she might not know the full extent of what’s going on.
Inciting Incident. An explosion rips through her dorm.
Complication. Emika is pulled from the team. Hideo pays her the $10,000,000 and tells her that she’s no longer needed as a bounty hunter. Now, there is no one out there protecting the masses of people watching the games. Emika feels the need to help. Turning Point: she realizes she can’t do it alone and recruits her teammates to help her.
Crisis. How to stop Zero?
Climax. She puts herself in the games. No one stops the games despite what should be obvious foul-play. She is able to override the code Zero wrote into the Artifacts and “save” everyone.
Resolution. Zero tells her his plan was to stop Hideo. She finds out that Hideo has taken away everyone’s free will. And, she knows that Zero is Hideo’s long lost brother and reason for everything he does.