Marie Lu, 1984-

Book - 2017

"When teenage coder Emika Chen hacks her way into the opening tournament of the Warcross Championships, she glitches herself into the game as well as a sinister plot with major consequences for the entire Warcross empire"--

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Young Adult Area YOUNG ADULT FICTION/Lu Marie Checked In
Science fiction
Spy fiction
New York, NY : G.P. Putnam's Sons, an imprint of Penguin Random House LLC [2017]
Main Author
Marie Lu, 1984- (author)
Physical Description
353 pages ; 22 cm
Contents unavailable.
Review by New York Times Review

Emika Chen is a rainbow-haired, electric skateboarding teenage bounty hunter in a futuristic New York City who, on the verge of getting evicted from her ratty apartment, glitches her way into a massively popular virtual reality game to steal a valuable power-up. The book opens with a mock news story about the game's 21-year-old creator, the mysterious Hideo Tanaka; an appended correction notes: "An earlier version of this story mistakenly described Hideo Tanaka as a millionaire. He is a billionaire." Whoops. Hideo, impressed that Emika has managed to breach his system (this is also a metaphor), flies her to Tokyo in his private jet to compete as a wild card in the international Warcross championships and figure out the identity of a certain nefarious cybercriminal. The book is as visual, kinetic and furiously paced as any video game; Lu, a former art director for video games as well as the author of the best-selling Legend series, has quite the way with otherworldly action scenes. Each round of the game is played in a different immersive environment; special NeuroLink glasses allow the real and virtual worlds to mesh. One particularly vivid round takes place in an icy wilderness filled with glaciers, "shifting and cracking under their own weight," with monstrous animals frozen inside them - a white wolf with a missing eye, a snakelike dragon, a woolly mammoth. There's romance, a lost sibling, spying, a diverse cast of gamers, and nifty tattoos. It's "Gleaming the Cube" meets "Strange Days" meets "Blade Runner," and it's a lot of fun. If the Cliffhanger ending seems irksome, never fear, this one's a series opener. RENEGADES By Marissa Meyer 556 pp. Feiwel and Friends. $19.99. So much cool stuff but, alas, so little editing. Set in the Gothamesque Gation City, this first in a series introduces powerful superheroes and their down-but-not-out nemeses. Years ago, the Renegades (the good guys - or are they?) defeated the Anarchists, who have retreated to crumbling subway tunnels. Teenage Anarchist Nova (villain name: Nightmare), who blames the Renegades and their governing Council for her parents' murder, goes undercover to infiltrate them. But she doesn't count on an attraction to the enigmatic and hot Adrian, whose two dads are Renegade royalty, Captain Chromium and the Dread Warden. He and Nova debate the idea of vigilante justice and question whether Renegades allow regular people to shrug off responsibility for creating an ethical society There are dozens of characters and secret identities, and awkward phrases like "his pallor was ghastly pale" and "his face took on a look of exultation." It can feel like a too-long X-Men movie. But some of the characters' powers are superfun (creating tattoos and drawings that become real, controlling an army of bees) and when everyone learns everyone else's identities and secret pasts - presumably in the next book - well, Holy Surprise Party, Batman. WONDER WOMAN: WARBRINGER By Leigh Bardugo 369 pp. Random House. $18.99 Feminism is the invisible jet powering this literary revamp of the Amazon princess. Bardugo's version offers a new explanation for Princess Diana's departure from Themyscira. A young woman named Alia Mayeux Keralis is shipwrecked off the coast, and Diana rescues her. But Alia is a Warbringer, a descendant of Helen of Troy whose very presence causes conflict and chaos. If Diana can help Alia get to Helen's final resting place before time runs out, she can change Alia's destiny... and the world's. After a slow start (the somber Themysciran scene-setting and stilted, formal way the Amazons speak aren't much fun), the plot takes off, with a lot of action and humor. Alia, who is half Greek-American and half black, brings Diana to her country (When the duo magically land in New York Harbor, Diana looks up to see "a vibrant yellow torch held aloft by the statue of an Amazon, her stern face framed by a crown like a sunburst.") They team up with Alia's older brother Jason, crush object Theo and best friend Nim, racing to change the course of history Meanwhile, terrifying gods of war and chaos, as well as human soldiers, keep attacking. Nim is a delicious character - an asymmetrical-haircut-sporting IndianAmerican girl with multiple piercings and a wicked sense of humor. Bardugo makes her both fat and hot, describing her as a "sparkly, round-cheeked sparrow." As always, Diana's interactions with the Western world are a good time ("Is Google one of your gods?" she asks). And it's lovely that this is a hero's journey times two. Alia taps into her own bravery and Diana learns about sexism, racism and something the Amazons have always dismissed: the courage, resilience and ingenuity of mere mortals. RELEASE By Patrick Ness 277 pp. HarperTeen. $17.99. Every sentence in this gorgeous little novel feels perfect and necessary Ness, a Carnegie Medal winner, has said that "Release" is influenced by two classics: Virginia Woolf's "Mrs Dalloway" and Judy Blume's "Forever." (I know, right?) The book has the structure of the former - a vast amount of emotional action packed into a single day - and the hyperintensity, sexual heat and empathy for teenagers of the latter. Adam Thorn is 17 and gay, a conservative preacher's son trapped in rural Washington State. He wants to love and be loved, and he wants to feel understood. He picks up a rose at a flower shop (who will he give it to? His best friend, Angela? His ex, Enzo? His current boyfriend, Linus?) and pricks his thumb ... and as the drop of blood falls we're suddenly in a different world. There's a Queen, a faun, a vengeful spirit, a murder and a sense of encroaching doom. The action switches back and forth between the two worlds, both filled with grief and loss and mistakes. Gradually, it becomes clear that both narratives are about the power of a single moment to change everything. It sounds heavy, but it isn't - Adam and his friends are very funny, and seeing flawed characters trying their hardest to forgive and to grow is truly touching. Also, the sex scenes are so hot they practically set the pages on fire. Ness's writing is lush without seeming to strain: A bad boyfriend is "all neck and rage," Mount Rainier at sunset turns "an unseemly, intimate pink." In an era when young adult books often feel bloated and meandering, this focused, humane book is a joy IN OTHER LANDS By Sarah Rees Brennan 437 pp. Big Mouth House. $19.95. "In Other Lands" is at once a classic school story, a coming-of-age story and a parody of Harry Potter. It's hilarious and sneakily moving. Elliot Schafer is Harry Potter if Harry had been abandoned instead of merely orphaned. Convinced of his unlovability, he wields sarcasm and braininess as weapons. As the book opens, Elliot is 13. On a field trip to Devon, England, he sees a wall few other kids can see. On the other side: the otherlands. Elliot, a huge reader of fantasy novels, is thrilled. Alas, the humans and harpies and trolls and elves and mermaids and vicious red-eyed, virginity-obsessed unicorns populating the otherlands turn out to be perpetually at war, and Elliot is a pacifist. "Oh no," he moans, as a dagger flies by his head. "This is magic Sparta." But he has no reason to go home, so he enters the Border camp's councilor-in-training program. And he makes two non-nerd friends: A gorgeous elf named Serene-Heart-in-theChaos-of-Battle and a perfect-seeming blond human jock. Brennan subverts the familiar Y.A. love triangle in uproarious, touching, unexpected ways, and her commentaries on gender roles, sexual identity and toxic masculinity are very witty Elven culture, for instance, views men as the weaker sex. "A true gentleman's heart is as sacred as a temple, and as easily crushed as a flower," Serene informs Elliot. When another elf tells him, "I was saddened to hear Serene had launched a successful attack on the citadel of your virtue," Elliot assures her, "The citadel was totally into surrendering." Best of all, over four years in the otherlands, Elliot grows from a defensive, furious, grieving child into a diplomatic, kind, menschy hero. MARJORiE ingall is a columnist for Tablet and the author of "Mamaleh Knows Best: What Jewish Mothers Do to Raise Successful, Creative, Empathetic, Independent Children."

Copyright (c) The New York Times Company [August 30, 2019]
Review by Booklist Review

Lu takes a sharp turn out of the dark fantasy universe of The Young Elites (2014) and into the glittery, high-tech sci-fi world of a futuristic Tokyo. Emika Chen, hacker extraordinaire, has been scraping together a living on the streets of New York, working as a bounty hunter who tracks down people betting illegally on Warcross, an insanely popular virtual reality game. But it's not enough to get by, and a desperate Emi hacks into a Warcross tournament game to scavenge. But she gets more than she bargained for when she's invited to Tokyo by Hideo Tanaka, Warcross' creator. There's something insidious going on behind the scenes of the game, and Hideo needs the help of a hacker-spy. But the world Emi has entered is one of twists and double-crosses, and even her skills might not be enough. Despite some technological deus ex machina, this is an inventive first in a series that showcases Lu's versatility as a storyteller. STEM tie-ins abound, and the thrilling plot turns will have readers happily strapping in for the ride. HIGH-DEMAND BACKSTORY: Dystopia, dark fantasy, and now a sci-fi thriller what can't Lu do? Her boatloads of fans can't wait to find out.--Reagan, Maggie Copyright 2017 Booklist

From Booklist, Copyright (c) American Library Association. Used with permission.
Review by Publisher's Weekly Review

Emika Chen, an 18-year-old hacker turned bounty hunter, ekes out a life in New York City by tracking down criminals who are turning illegal profits in the virtual world of Warcross, an immersive game accessed by a "brain-computer interface." Facing eviction, Emi recklessly hacks into the game to steal a valuable power-up. When a glitch exposes her identity to millions of viewers-and Hideo Tanaka, the game's 21-year-old billionaire inventor-Emi is summoned to the Henka Games headquarters in Tokyo. There, Hideo recruits her to find an elusive hacker called Zero, and she enters the high-profile games as a wild-card player. With a keen eye for detail, Lu (the Young Elites series) vividly imagines a future society where gaming is woven into daily life, and easily allows readers to sink into Emi's reality. Readers will enthusiastically follow clever, independent, and empathetic Emi, who is driven both by the memory of her father and a strong sense of morality. Think The Hunger Games meets World of Warcraft, with exactly the sort of massive appeal that crossover suggests. Ages 12-up. Agent: Kristin Nelson, Nelson Literary. (Sept.) © Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved.

(c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved
Review by School Library Journal Review

Gr 8 Up-Emika Chen is a hacker. At only 18, she has a criminal record a mile long and is unable to find any legitimate work. Luckily, there is the opportunity for her to work as a competitive bounty hunter for illegal gambling in Warcross, a virtual game that has taken over the globe. Looking to make some quick cash by stealing some powerups at the international Warcross Championships, Emika accidently glitches herself into the game and becomes an overnight celebrity. Instead of being arrested, Emika is contacted by game creator Hideo Tanaka and whisked away to Tokyo to work as one of the elusive billionaire's hackers. Thrilled at the prospect of a better life, Emika is slow to realize how dangerous this job really is. With love, betrayal, conspiracies, and more, Warcross will keep listeners hanging on narrator Nancy Wu's every word. VERDICT Perfect for discussion groups, gamers, reluctant readers, and dystopian fans alike. Listeners will be eagerly waiting for the sequel.-Amanda Schiavulli, Finger Lakes Library System, NY © Copyright 2018. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.

(c) Copyright Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.
Review by Horn Book Review

One minute Emika Chen is a hacker and bounty hunter in a futuristic New York City, struggling to make ends meet, and the next minute--after shes hacked into Warcross, the phenomenally popular virtual reality game--shes on a private jet to Tokyo to meet Hideo Tanaka, the young inventor of the game. It turns out shes only the second person to hack the game, and Hideo promises her an outrageous sum of money if she can track down the first, a shadowy villain known as Zero, but in order to do so Emika has to join one of the teams competing in the Warcross tournament, a virtual reality version of Capture the Flag. As Emika gets closer to uncovering Zeros identity and motive, she also becomes romantically involved with the notoriously aloof Hideo, while sorting out her often-competing loyalties to her team and to Hideo. The story ends with a bombshell revelation and--of course--a cliffhanger. Written in a first-person, present-tense style similar to that of Suzanne Collins, and with shades of Cory Doctorow, Lus (the Legend and Young Elites novels) book is a blend of action, suspense, romance, and speculative fiction that will please her legion of eager fans. jonathan hunt (c) Copyright 2017. The Horn Book, Inc., a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.

(c) Copyright The Horn Book, Inc., a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.
Review by Kirkus Book Review

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 positionone 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) Copyright Kirkus Reviews, used with permission.

Copyright (c) Kirkus Reviews, used with permission.

Chapter 1 It's too damn cold of a day to be out on a hunt.   I shiver, tug my scarf up higher over my mouth, and wipe a few snowflakes from my lashes. Then I slam my boot down on my electric skateboard. The board is old and used, like everything else I own, its blue paint almost entirely scraped off to reveal cheap silver plastic underneath--but it's not dead yet, and when I push my heel down harder, it finally responds, jerking me forward as I squeeze between two rows of cars. My bright, rainbow-dyed hair whips across my face.   "Hey!" a driver yells as I maneuver past his car. I glance over my shoulder to see him waving a fist at me through his open window. "You almost clipped me!"   I just turn back around and ignore him. Usually, I'm a nicer person than this--or, at least, I would have shouted an apology back. But this morning, I'd woken up to a yellow paper taped to the door of my apartment, its words printed in the largest font you can imagine.   72 HOURS TO PAY OR VACATE   Translation: I'm almost three months behind on my rent. So, unless I can get my hands on $3,450, I'll be homeless and in the streets by the end of the week.   That'd put a damper on anyone's day.   My cheeks sting from the wind. The sky beyond the cut of skyscrapers is gray, turning grayer, and in a few hours this flurry of snow will become a steady fall. Cars jam the streets, a nonstop trail of brake lights and honking from here all the way to Times Square. The occasional scream of a traffic controller's whistle cuts above the chaos. The air is thick with the smell of exhaust, and steam billows from an open vent nearby. People swarm up and down the sidewalks. Students coming home from school are easy to spot, their backpacks and fat headphones dotting the crowds.   Technically, I should be one of them. This should have been my first year of college. But I started skipping classes after Dad died and dropped out entirely several years ago. (Okay, fine--technically, I was expelled. But I swear I would've quit anyway. More on that later.)   I look down at my phone again, my mind returning to the hunt. Two days ago, I had gotten the following text message:   New York Police Department ALERT! Arrest warrant out for Martin Hamer. Payment $5,000.   The police are so busy these days with the increasing crime in the streets that they don't have time to hunt for petty criminals on their own--petty criminals like Martin Hamer, who's wanted for gambling on Warcross, stealing money, and allegedly selling drugs to fund his bets. So, about once a week, the cops send out a message like this, a promise to pay anyone who can catch the criminal in question.   That's where I come in. I'm a bounty hunter, one of many in Manhattan, and I'm fighting to capture Martin Hamer before another hunter can.   Anyone who's ever fallen on hard times will understand the nearly constant stream of numbers that run through my mind. A month's rent in the worst apartment in New York: $1,150. A month's food: $180. Electricity and internet: $150. Boxes of macaroni, ramen, and Spam left in my pantry: 4. And so on. On top of that, I owe $3,450 in unpaid rent, and $6,000 in credit card debt.   The number of dollars left in my bank account: $13.   Not the normal things a girl my age worries about. I should be freaking out over exams. Turning in papers. Waking up on time.   But I haven't exactly had a normal adolescence.   Five thousand dollars is easily the largest bounty in months. For me, it might as well be all the money in the world. So, for the last two days, I've done nothing but track this guy. I've lost four bounties in a row this month. If I lose this one, too, I'm going to be in real trouble.   Tourists always clogging up the streets, I think as a detour forces me down a path right into Times Square, where I get stuck behind a cluster of auto-taxis jammed at a pedestrian walkway. I lean back on my board, pull myself to a halt, and start inching backward. As I go, I glance down at my phone again.   A couple of months ago, I'd succeeded in hacking into the main directory of Warcross players in New York and synced it all up to my phone's maps. It's not hard, not if you remember that everyone in the world is connected in some way to everyone else. It's just time-consuming. You worm your way into one account, then branch out to their friends, then their friends, and eventually, you're able to track the location of any player in New York City. Now I've finally managed to place my target's physical location, but my phone's a cracked, beat-up old thing, with an antique battery that's on its last legs. It keeps trying to sleep in order to save energy, and the screen is so dark I can barely see anything.   "Wake up," I mutter, squinting at the pixels.   Finally, the poor phone lets out a pitiful buzz, and the red location marker updates on my map.   I make my way out of the taxi jam and push my heel down on my board. It protests for a moment, but then it speeds me forward, a dot in a sea of moving humanity.   Once I reach Times Square, screens tower above me, surrounding me in a world of neon and sound. Every spring, the official Warcross Championships kick off with a huge ceremony, and two teams of top-ranking players compete in an all-stars opening round of Warcross. This year's opening ceremony happens tonight in Tokyo--so all the screens are Warcross-related today, showing a frenzied rotation of famous players, commercials, and footage of highlights from last year. Frankie Dena's latest, craziest music video plays on the side of one building. She's dressed like her Warcross avatar--in a limited edition suit and webbed glitter cape--and dancing with a bunch of businessmen in bright pink suits. Underneath the screen, a group of excited tourists stop to pose for photos with some guy dressed in fake Warcross gear.   Another screen features five of the superstar players competing in tonight's opening ceremony. Asher Wing. Kento Park. Jena MacNeil. Max Martin. Penn Wachowski. I crane my neck to admire them. Each one is dressed from head to toe in the hottest fashion of the season. They smile down at me, their mouths big enough to swallow the city, and as I look on, they all hold up cans of soda, declaring Coca-Cola their drink of choice during game season. A marquee of text scrolls below them:   Top Warcross Players Arrive in Tokyo, Poised for World Domination   Then I'm through the intersection and cut onto a smaller road. My target's little red dot on my phone shifts again. It looks like he's turned onto Thirty-Eighth Street.   I squeeze my way through another few blocks of traffic before I finally arrive, pulling over along the curb beside a newsstand. The red location dot now hovers over the building in front of me, right above a café's door. I tug my scarf down and let out a sigh of relief. My breath fogs in the icy air. "Caught you," I whisper, allowing myself a smile as I think of the five-thousand-dollar bounty. I hop off my electric skateboard, pull out its straps, and swing it over my shoulder so that it bumps against my backpack. It's still warm from use, the heat of it seeping through my hoodie, and I arch my back to savor it.   As I pass the newsstand, I glimpse the magazine covers. I have a habit of checking them out, searching for coverage of my favorite person. There's always something. Sure enough, one of the magazines features him prominently: a tall young man lounging in an office, dressed in dark trousers and a crisp collar shirt, sleeves casually rolled up to his elbows, his face obscured by shadows. Below him is the logo for Henka Games, Warcross's parent studio. I stop to read the headline.   HIDEO TANAKA TURNS 21 | Inside the Private Life of the Warcross Creator   My heart skips a familiar beat at my idol's name. Too bad there's no time to stop and flip through the magazine. Maybe later. I reluctantly turn away, adjust my backpack and board higher on my shoulders, and pull my hood up to cover my head. The glass windows I pass reflect a distorted vision of myself--face elongated, dark jeans stretched too long, black gloves, beat-up boots, faded red scarf wrapped around my black hoodie. My rainbow-colored hair spills out from underneath my hood. I try to imagine this reflected girl printed on the cover of a magazine.   Don't be stupid. I push the ridiculous thought away as I head toward the café's entrance, shifting my thoughts instead to the running checklist of tools in my backpack. 1. Handcuffs 2. Cable launcher 3. Steel-tipped gloves 4. Phone 5. Change of clothes 6. Stun gun 7. Book   On one of my first hunts, my target threw up all over me after I used my stun gun (#6) on him. I started bringing a change of clothes (#5) after that. Two targets have managed to bite me, so after a few tetanus shots, I added the gloves (#3). The cable launcher (#2) is for getting to hard-to-reach places and catching hard-to-reach people. My phone (#4) is my portable hacking assistant. Handcuffs (#1) are because, well, obviously.   And the book (#7) is for whenever the hunt involves a lot of waiting around. Entertainment that won't eat up my batteries is always worth bringing.   Now I step into the café, soak in the warmth, and check my phone again. Customers are lined up along a counter displaying pastries, waiting for one of the four auto-cashiers to open. Decorative bookshelves line the walls. A smattering of students and tourists sit at the tables. When I point my phone's camera at them, I can see their names hovering over their heads, meaning none of them have set themselves on Private. Maybe my target isn't on this floor.   I wander past the shelves, my attention shifting from table to table. Most people never really observe their surroundings; ask anyone what the person sitting at a nearby table was wearing, and chances are good that they can't tell you. But I can. I can recite to you the outfits and demeanor of every person in that coffee line, can tell you exactly how many people are sitting at each table, the precise way someone's shoulders hunch just a little too much, the two people sitting side by side who never say a word, the guy who is careful not to make eye contact with anyone else. I can take in a scene like a photographer might take in a landscape--relax my eyes, analyze the full view all at once, search for the point of interest, and take a mental snapshot to remember the whole thing.   I look for the break in the pattern, the nail that protrudes.   My gaze pauses on a cluster of four boys reading on the couches. I watch them for a while, waiting for signs of conversation or the hint of notes being passed by hand or phone. Nothing. My attention goes to the stairs leading up to the second floor. No doubt other hunters are closing in on this target, too--I have to get to him before anyone else does. My steps quicken as I climb the stairs.   No one is up here, or so it seems. But then I notice the faint sound of two voices at a table in a far corner, tucked behind a pair of bookshelves that make them almost impossible to see from the stairs. I move in closer on silent feet, then peek through the shelves.   A woman is seated at the table, her nose buried in a book. A man stands over her, nervously shuffling his feet. I hold up my phone. Sure enough, both of them are set to Private.   I slip to the side of the wall so that they can't see me, and listen closely.   "I don't have until tomorrow night," the man is saying.   "Sorry," the woman replies. "But there's not much I can do. My boss won't release that kind of money to you without taking extra security measures, not when the police have an arrest warrant for you."   "You promised me."   "And I'm sorry, sir." The woman's voice is calm and cynical, like she's had to say this countless times before. "It's game season. The authorities are on high alert."   "I have three hundred thousand notes with you. Do you have any idea what that's exchanging for?"   "Yes. It's my job to know," the woman answers in the driest voice I've ever heard.   Three hundred thousand notes. That's about two hundred thousand dollars, at the current exchange rate. High roller, this one. Gambling on Warcross is illegal in the United States; it's one of the many laws the government has recently passed in a desperate attempt to keep up with technology and cybercrime. If you win a bet on a Warcross match, you win game credits called notes. But here's the thing--you can either take those notes online or to a physical place, where you meet a teller like this lady. You trade your notes to her. She gives you real cash in return, while taking a cut for her boss.   "It's my money," the guy is insisting now.   "We have to protect ourselves. Extra security measures take time. You can come back tomorrow night, and we can exchange half of your notes."   "I told you, I don't have until tomorrow night. I need to leave the city."   The conversation repeats itself all over again. I hold my breath as I listen. The woman has all but confirmed his identity.   My eyes narrow, and my lips turn up into a hungry little smirk. This, right here, is the moment I live for during a hunt--when the bits and pieces I've exposed of a trail all converge into a fine point, when I see my target standing physically before me, ripe for the picking. When I've solved the puzzle.   Got you.   As their conversation turns more urgent, I tap my phone twice and send out a text message to the police.   Suspect in physical custody.   I get a reply almost immediately.   NYPD ALERTED.   I pull the stun gun out of my backpack. It catches for an instant against the edge of the zipper, making the faintest scraping sound.   The conversation halts. Through the bookshelves, both the man and woman jerk their heads toward me like deer in headlights. The man sees my expression. His face is covered in a sheen of sweat, and his hair is plastered against his forehead. A fraction of a second passes.   I shoot.   He bolts--I miss him by a hair. Good reflexes. The woman darts up from her table, too, but I could care less about her. I rush after him. He hops down the stairs three at a time, nearly falling in his rush, scattering his phone and a bunch of pens behind him. He sprints for the entrance as I reach the first floor. I burst through the revolving glass door right behind him.   We emerge onto the street. People let out startled shouts as the man shoves them aside--he knocks a camera-clicking tourist flat on her back. In one movement, I swing my electric board off my shoulder, drop it, jump on, and slam my heel down as hard as I can. It makes a high-pitched whoosh--I lunge forward, speeding down the sidewalk. The man glances back to see me gaining fast on him. He darts left down the street at a full, panicked run.   I veer in his direction at such a sharp angle that the edge of my board protests against the pavement, leaving a long, black line. I aim my stun gun at the man's back and shoot.   He shrieks and stumbles. Instantly, he starts struggling up again, but I catch up to him. He grabs my ankle. I stumble, kicking at him. His eyes are wild, his teeth clenched and jaw tight. Out flashes a blade. I see its glint in the light just in time. I kick him off me and roll away right before he can stab at my leg. My hands get a grip on his jacket. I fire the stun gun again, this time at close range. It hits true. His body goes rigid, and he collapses on the pavement, trembling.   I jump on him. My knee presses hard into his back as the man sobs on the ground. The sound of police sirens rounds the bend. A circle of people have gathered around us now, their phones and glasses all out and recording away.   "I didn't do anything," the man whimpers over and over through a clenched jaw. His voice comes out garbled by how hard I'm pushing him into the ground. "The lady inside--I can give you her name--"   "Shut it," I cut him off as I slide handcuffs onto his wrists.   To my surprise, he does. They don't always listen like that. I don't relent until a police car pulls up, until I see red and blue lights flashing against the wall. Only then do I get up and back away from him, making sure to hold out my hands so that the cops can see them clearly. My skin tingles from the rush of a successful hunt as I watch the two policemen yank the man onto his feet.   Five thousand dollars! When was the last time I had even half that much money at once? Never. I'll get to be less desperate for a while--I'll pay off the rent that I owe, which should calm my landlord down for now. Then I'll have $1,550 left. It's a fortune. My mind flips through my other bills. Maybe I can eat something other than instant noodles tonight.   I want to do a victory jump in the air. I'll be okay. Until the next hunt.   It takes me a moment to realize that the police are walking away with their new captive without even looking in my direction. My smile falters.   "Hey, Officer!" I shout, hurrying after the closer one. "Are you giving me a ride to the station for my payment, or what? Should I just meet you there?"   The officer gives me a look that doesn't seem to jive with the fact that I just caught them a criminal. She looks exasperated, and dark circles under her eyes tell me she hasn't gotten much rest. "You weren't first," she says.   I startle, blinking. "What?" I say.   "Another hunter phoned in the alert before you."   For an instant, all I can do is stare at her.   Then I spit out a swear. "What a load of bull. You saw the whole thing go down. You all confirmed my alert!" I hold up my phone so the officer can see the text message I received. Sure enough, that's when my phone's battery finally dies.   Not that the proof would've made a difference. The officer doesn't even glance at the phone. "It was just an auto-reply. According to my messages, I received the first call-in from another hunter on location. Bounty goes to the first, no exceptions." She offers me a sympathetic shrug.   This is the dumbest technicality I've ever heard. "The hell it does!" I argue. "Who's the other hunter? Sam? Jamie? They're the only other ones canvassing this turf." I throw my hands up. "You know what--you're lying, there is no other hunter. You just don't want to pay out." I follow her as she turns away. "I saved you from a dirty job--that's the deal, that's why any bounty hunter goes after the people you're too lazy to catch. You owe me this one and you--"   The cop's partner grabs my arm and shoves me so hard that I nearly fall. "Get back," he says with a snarl. "Emika Chen, isn't it?" His other hand is wrapped tightly around the handle of his sheathed gun. "Yeah, I remember you."   I'm not about to argue with a loaded weapon. "Fine, fine." I force myself to take a step back and raise my hands in the air. "I'm going, okay? Leaving now."   "I know you already got some jail time, kid." He glares at me, his eyes hard and glittering, before joining his partner. "Don't make me give you another strike."   I hear the police radio calling them away to another crime scene. The noise around me muffles, and the image in my mind of the five thousand dollars starts to waver until it finally blurs into something I no longer recognize. In the span of thirty seconds, my victory has been tossed into someone else's hands. Excerpted from Warcross by Marie Lu All rights reserved by the original copyright owners. Excerpts are provided for display purposes only and may not be reproduced, reprinted or distributed without the written permission of the publisher.