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Sunday, November 08, 2015

Armada by Ernest Cline

From Goodreads:

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?

I adored Ready Player One. It wow-ed me in a way no other book had, I identified with nearly all the references and just loved everything about it. I wanted to be just as wow-ed by Armada. I pre-ordered the audio just as soon as I knew Wil Wheaton was narrating it, and I was excited to get into it. I did enjoy it. But I wasn't wow-ed. I was prepared for this, I had seen many reviews that weren't so high, and so I was ready to just enjoy it for what it was.  Ready Player One was a tough act to follow.  I don't want to call it a one trick pony, because I don't think that at all, and I'm still completely interested in whatever else Ernest Cline writes.  I love the culture references in both books, and the video game incorporation, but by the time we get to Armada, that aspect wasn't new any more (although used differently than in RPO, it still isn't a new concept, a la Ender's Game by Orson Scott Card) and I think that's part of the problem.  I think Armada is being judged by it's super student older sibling and that sibling's also amazing older friends and it wouldn't matter what it did, it couldn't measure up, if you know what I mean. 

I felt like we didn't have as much character development here, although I did like the characters it seemed like some of the more interesting ones we didn't get to know very well.  The ending message didn't pack quite as much of a punch as in RPO and it was just suspicious and abrupt. Armada is just a lighter book all the way around, but for all that, still enjoyable.  I'm looking forward to seeing what Ernest has up his sleeve next!


  1. Whoa will wheaton narrated this book?! WOW! I have heard that this book wasn't as awesome as Reader Player One, but I haven't read any of these books so I can't contribute. I am all about the sci-fi though, so I hope to get to this one very soon :)

    1. I love Wil Wheaton as a narrator and actually discovered John Scalzi because of it! And truthfully Ready Player One as well, it was the selling point for what I had heard was a great book, but kind of sounded weird to me at first. Little did I know!


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