After being reintroduced to the nostalgic storytelling of Ernest Cline, due to the fact that I finally got around to watching the film adaptation of Ready Player One, I figured it was high time that I get his follow-up, Armada, off my TBR shelf.
Did Zack Lightman’s adventure leave me craving more science fiction goodness? Keep on reading to find out my thoughts and opinions.
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Armada by Ernest Cline
Publisher: Crown Publishing (July 14, 2015)
Print Length: 355 pages
Audiobook Length: 11 hrs and 50 mins
Narrator: Wil Wheaton
Zack Lightman has never much cared for reality. He vastly prefers the countless science-fiction movies, books, and videogames he’s spent his life consuming. And too often, he catches himself wishing that some fantastic, impossible, world-altering event could arrive to whisk him off on a grand spacefaring adventure.
So when he sees the flying saucer, he’s sure his years of escapism have finally tipped over into madness.
Especially because the alien ship he’s staring at is straight out of his favorite videogame, a flight simulator callled Armada–in which gamers just happen to be protecting Earth from alien invaders.
As impossible as it seems, what Zack’s seeing is all too real. And it’s just the first in a blur of revlations that will force him to question everything he thought he knew about Earth’s history, its future, even his own life–and to play the hero for real, with humanity’s life in the balance.
So long as you go into Armada not comparing it to Cline’s nostalgic debut, Ready Player One, it is an engrossing addition to the science fiction genre.
Armada is a science fiction novel that centers around the character of Zack Lightman, a high school senior whose life is turned upside down when he finds out that the books, movies, and video games he’s come to seek solace in have actually been preparing him to join a top-secret military organization meant to save the world from an impending alien invasion.
While I can agree with other reviewers that the book started off a bit on the slow side, given that the plot needed to lay out all of the nostalgia in a way that appealed to a wider audience, once Cline had set the stage for the action-packed mission and character development I found I couldn’t put the book down. Also, I think I found more enjoyment with Armada because I chose to listen to the book. Wil Wheaton’s was the perfect choice for the narrator of a book chalk-full of science fiction references. He was great at differentiating between characters, given that each had their own distinct voices, and gave it his best when it came time to mimic some of sci-fi’s most memorable figures.
As with the plot, it took me a couple of chapters to warm up to the characters in Armada but once again I found myself enjoying them come the closing of the novel. First, Zach Lightman (ie Cline) has wicked taste when it comes to his ‘Raid the Arcade’ music playlist. I actually found myself wanting to turn on the music of Queen, Pink Floyd, and Joan Jett in order to get even more in depth with the characters.While his overall journey is kind of predictable, I guessed more than one of his character twists, I did find Zach to be a relatable protagonist. I found he responded to the situations he found himself in a way that any normal teenage boy probably would. Plus, his relationships with the other Thirty Dozen, the top players of Armada/Terra Firma, more than made up for my apprehensiveness when it came to his manic pixie dream girl relationship with Alexis Larkin.
Overall Rating: 4 out of 5 stars.
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And those are my thoughts on Armada by Ernest Cline. Have any sci-fi recommendation? Leave them as a comment below and help my TBR grow.