Tournament of Books, Round Two: The Hate U Give vs Warcross


When I found out my first assigned book was The Hate U Give by Angie Thomas, I squealed because that was one of the best books I read in 2017, and I knew there were very few books it could be paired with that would prevent me from moving it on. Then I was assigned Warcross by Marie Lu. I’ve never been a huge fan of science fiction, especially gaming sci-fi, so I admittedly went into this competition knowing I would pick T.H.U.G. to win.

This is probably a librarian sin, but Warcross is the kind of book I’d rather see played out in a movie both because of the visual potential–Emika’s hair is rainbow-colored, and it’s not every day a book takes place in Tokyo–and also because it took at least half the book for any action to take place. I found myself wishing I was reading any of the books in my “to-read-right-now” stack instead of this one that took 150+ pages for me to get invested. Underwhelming, if you will.

With that said, one of the characters says, “Everything is science fiction before it’s science fact,” which was a satisfying reminder about why sci-fi can be such a worthwhile, imaginative genre. And I’m happy to have another book to recommend to students who are fans of Ready Player One and Ender’s Game. Ultimately, though, it was a choice between moving forward something relevant and poignant and something for the escapist.

I went with relevant and necessary. Because while reading to better understand the current state of the world and reading to escape it are both important and valid, T.H.UG. carries an immediacy. I want to get it into the hands of everyone, especially people who do not understand or choose to disparage the Black Lives Matter movement.

Due to a lengthy commute, I get most of “reading” in via audiobooks during the school year. While listening to The Hate U Give, I arrived at work in tears. Every. Day. For as many feelings I’ve had while reading over the years, I don’t think I’ve ever been moved to tears like this.

I’ll let Starr speak for herself:

That’s the problem. We let people say stuff. And they say it so much that it becomes okay to them. And normal for us. What’s the point of having a voice if you’re going to be silent in those moments you shouldn’t be?”

And the winner is…


The Hate U Give by Angie Thomas

Ayse Liebovich is the librarian at Bartlett High School and also on the Steering Committee of the Lincoln Book Award. She continues to be overwhelmed by her neverending to-read list.



Back to Round Two, Bracket Five

Onto Round Two, Bracket Seven


Tournament of Books, Round One: City of Saints and Thieves vs Warcross

City of Saints and Thieves by Natalie C Anderson
Natalie C. Anderson’s City of Saints and Thieves is a unique read to say the least. When I first stumble  upon this book when  I was researching new books for purchase, I was intrigued by the premise because I had not seen anything like it.

33956433City of Saints and Thieves is a blend of a lot of genres that takes the readers on an intriguing ride. The story follows Tina and her mother who are both refugees from the Congo and have come all this way to seek a better life in Kenya. Tina’s mother finds employment as a maid for a powerful business Mr. Greyhill whose meddling in corruption and crime make him one of the most hated men in Kenya. It’s these allegations against Mr. Greyhill that makes Tina suspicious when she finds out that her mother has been murdered. It is after the death of her mother that Tina  decides to join the Goondas, a prolific gang  with hopes that it will help her seek revenge. Tina becomes a skilled thief and learns to live on her own in the streets. Slowly plotting her revenge towards Mr. Greyhill, Tina runs into the painful tidbits of her past that slows her plans. Without giving anything away, the story takes the reader into many twists and turns . We learn that there is more to the murder than meets the eye.

After reading the book, it’s definitely not The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo meets Gone Girl (sorry Goodreads). But rather its the girl with the dragon tattoo mixed with every other book in the world on mystery. I personally wouldn’t give this book to my middle grader readers, but a high schooler that is tired of reading the typical YA book. I was a huge fan of the writing style

Warcross by Marie Lu
29385546Warcross by Marie Lu introduces the reader to the virtual reality of Warcross. In the same light of Ready Player One and Tron Legacy, Warcross is set in a post apocalyptic world where people are desperate to find somewhere to escape. They find solace in the world of Warcross, a virtual reality that is accessible through virtual reality goggles and those lucky enough are able to compete in the International Warcross Championship. Emika Chen is an orphan and a bounty hunter, who tracks down those that illegally bet on the game. She also happens to be a talented hacker that is quickly able to hack into Warcross, but she is afraid of what happens if the creators and regulators of Warcross find out. She is already on the edge because money is tight and money that she makes from bounty hunting and working at the diner are not enough to cover the rent. Emika also continues to be overtaken by memories of her father. Knowing that eviction and discovery is imminent, Emika is contacted by Hideo the creator of Warcross with an offer. Hideo needs Emika to serve as a spy for him inside the game. Now inside the game, Emika finds out that Warcross is full of threats that can impact Warcross as a whole. It’s Emika’s job to find a solution.
Unlike the City of Saint and Thieves, Marie Lu’s Warcross takes you on the ride of a lifetime. I was able to imagine the world of Warcross in my mind where technology and modernity intersect, but that still has a habit of leaving those with less behind. It’s a high stakes adventure that is similar to other Marie Lu books. I liked this book so much that I put this title on our Great New Reads for Teens book list in the fall, and our middle schoolers loved it as well.

And the winner is…

Warcross by Marie Lu

City of Saints and Thieves and Warcoss both have strong female characters that are playing on tragedies that happened to them. They are both anxious to find solutions to different issues, but their combined determination, bravery, and let’s face it stubbornness puts these two lead characters at the top. If I had to choose the best of the two, I would say Warcross hits the ball out of the park. It’s versatile, it’s full of adventure, and it’s Marie Lu. Of course Warcross doesn’t beat the Legend series or The Young Elites series, but it’s still a noteworthy title that even fans that don’t typically read science fiction are going to enjoy.

Melisa is a Youth and Young Adult Librarian at Hinsdale Public Library that specializes in teen services. When she isn’t reading, you can find her in a hot yoga class or watching animals do funny things on Instagram. 

Back to Round One, Bracket Ten

Onto Round One, Bracket Twelve