Rated? Four 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?
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.
It’s all been done before.
Generally speaking, I found this book to be rushed and not as original as Cline’s first book. The plot has been done in film and literature before, and there was nothing to add to the story that made it any better than a pre-existing story. If anything, there was an excess of forehead-slapping cliches. I’m not sure what bothers me more – the fact that it was so rushed and cheesy, or the fact I believe it was ridden that way intentionally.
That said, it still was entertaining in its own way and it’s great to see a different kind of science fiction falling into the mainstream. The book started with the slur of excellent references, even if that familiar theme from Ready Player One disappeared about 30% through. With a lot of suspension of disbelief, a reader can still enjoy the book. I would recommend this for those who are not well-read in science-fiction, who are looking for a light introduction to the genre (outside of the ever-popular dystopia). Avid sci-fi readers will be quickly frustrated with the juvenile characters and lazy writing… not to mention the cliches.