Reading time 3 mins
Review: ARMADA by Ernest ClineArmada by Ernest Cline
Published by Crown/Archetype on July 14th 2015
Pages: 368
Genres: Fiction, Science Fiction, Action & Adventure, Fiction, Space Opera, Alien Contact
Hardcover provided by Blogging for Books

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Zack Lightman has spent his life dreaming. Dreaming that the real world could be a little more like the countless science-fiction books, movies, and videogames he's spent his life consuming. Dreaming that one day, some fantastic, world-altering event will shatter the monotony of his humdrum existence and whisk him off on some grand space-faring adventure.

But hey, there's nothing wrong with a little escapism, right? After all, Zack tells himself, he knows the difference between fantasy and reality. He knows that here in the real world, aimless teenage gamers with anger issues don't get chosen to save the universe.
And then he sees the flying saucer.
Even stranger, the alien ship he's staring at is straight out of the videogame he plays every night, a hugely popular online flight simulator called Armada--in which gamers just happen to be protecting the earth from alien invaders.

No, Zack hasn't lost his mind. As impossible as it seems, what he's seeing is all too real. And his skills--as well as those of millions of gamers across the world--are going to be needed to save the earth from what's about to befall it.

It's Zack's chance, at last, to play the hero. But even through the terror and exhilaration, he can't help thinking back to all those science-fiction stories he grew up with, and wondering: Doesn't something about this scenario seem a little...familiar?

At once gleefully embracing and brilliantly subverting science-fiction conventions as only Ernest Cline could, Armada is a rollicking, surprising thriller, a classic coming of age adventure, and an alien invasion tale like nothing you've ever read before--one whose every page is infused with the pop-culture savvy that has helped make Ready Player One a phenomenon.

Let me start here by saying that I haven’t read Ready Player One. I knew this book would be sci-fi, but I had no idea about the geeky gamer aspect of this book. This story is about a kid named Zach, (well, he’s 18 but still in high school), who works at a game store. He is one of the top players in the country in a game called Armada. I can’t image the amount of game play that would be required to maintain the top 10 ranking in any video game, but this kid does it. When the game ends up actually being training for real Earth defense, Zach gets recruited to fly read drones and help save the planet.

The Good: I really liked the concept of this book. The idea of games being real isn’t new, but I liked this spin on it none the less. This is the perfect book for a gamer. If you can find one who also loves to read, that would be even better.There were quite a few references that made me smile and the irony of the situation was not lost on this reader. There was a fair amount of fun banter between the players in the games.

There was a lot of things to like about Zach. He is the unsuspecting underdog at his high school. He is really devoted to the people in his life and treats adults around him with respect. I really loved that about him. He is good at the game, but he doesn’t let it go to his head. Even when he discovers that his father is an even better player and a General in the Earth Defense Alliance, Zach is still really humble. I also enjoyed the reunion(s) in this story.

The Bad: I felt like some of the references will be missed by some readers. This book will appeal to a certain age group, with a certain geeky love, and with a certain enthusiasm for arcade type alien-fighter games. I got almost all of the references but I doubt I was the target audience. I felt like people will miss a joke here and there, because this book referenced loads of things that only a child of the 80’s would know, so that was a bit frustrating. I really disliked Lex, the love interest. I thought her injection into the story was a bit too convenient.

Also, and this is a biggy, I didn’t get as much out of the epic battle scenes. There was a ton of build up for the fight scenes and then they sort of fizzled out. The fighting just didn’t transcribe into action as well as they should have. I guess it didn’t help that the players were actually only controlling drones. The rules kept changing and major issues got resolved much too easily.

Like I said earlier, this book will appeal to a certain audience. I just think it will be a very small part of the population that doesn’t expect much from a book.

My Rating



About Ernest Cline

ERNEST CLINE is a novelist, screenwriter, father, and full-time geek. His first novel, Ready Player One, was a New York Times and USA Today bestseller, appeared on numerous “best of the year” lists, and is set to be adapted into a motion picture by Warner Bros. and director Steven Spielberg. Ernie lives in Austin, Texas, with his family, a time-traveling DeLorean, and a large collection of classic video games.

I received this product free of charge in exchange for an honest review. This post contains affiliate links. This review is in compliance with the FTC guidelines.

If you have read Armada, what are your thoughts? Should I ever bother reading Ready Player One?

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