Book: Armada by Ernest Cline
Release Date: July 14th 2015
Rating: 3 out of 5 stars
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?
Before Armada came out in 2015, there was a lot of buzz surrounding this book as it was written by the author of Ready Player One, a book that everyone raves about. Afterwards there were a lot of negative sounds about this book as it was compared to Ready Player One. It made me curious about this book. After reading this book I can say that I am not a fan, but I am even more curious about Ready Player One now.
Armada is a book that references massively to other sci-fi games, tv shows and movies right from the start. While I am not a gamer, I did recognize a portion of the games and all the tv shows and movies mentioned. Initially I liked seeing all these references. Unfortunately there is such a massive amount of references towards all of these, that at some point it starts feeling like name dropping. It was just too much, and not all of it was beneficial towards the plot. It could have easily been cut out.
Next to that there is a lot of gamer talk in the first part of this book. As mentioned I am not a gamer so a lot of these strategies that were mentioned made it hard for me to get into the start. I didn’t mind so much when he was actually gaming, but there was a lot of talk and very little show.
Together with the above mentioned the start was slow. It takes a long time before we get to the bigger plot and even then there is a lot of set up for the last portion of the book, the actual battle. For me the ending felt rushed. The supposed twist didn’t quite land because there wasn’t enough time to work it out properly, which is funny because there is a lot of set-up for other things. Personally I would have preferred more interactions/battles with the aliens that showed this to us. Instead we got an analysis by the characters of events that we didn’t get to experience. It just wasn’t enough for me. I needed a better sell than we got. Regardless, the second half of this book is easier to read and I did enjoy parts of it.
As far as characters go, for the most part they were okay. Zack is certainly not a stand out main character. He is a big gamer and has daddy issues. He also has angry issues because of said daddy issues. He basically started beating someone up at some point throughout the book but beside it being mentioned (as anger issues) it isn’t dealt with at all.
What saves this book for me is the interactions between the various characters. They are funny and even snarky in places. It made me smile at moments.