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Armada: A novel by the author of Ready Player One Kindle Edition
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“An amazing novel [that] proves Cline has the ability to blend popular culture with exciting stories that appeal to everyone.”—Associated Press
“A fantastic second novel . . . fans of Ready Player One, it is time to rejoice.”—HuffPost
“A joyous, rollicking read . . . will garner Cline an even larger group of fans than the formidable crew he’s already assembled.”—Boing Boing
“A great romp . . . Cline (ever the fanboy) is both reverent of and referential to the books and movies and games of his childhood.”—Mother Jones
“Video games come to life in this witty, extraterrestrial thriller.”—New York Post
“Built like a summer blockbuster . . . Cline recombines the DNA of Ender’s Game, Star Wars, The Last Starfighter, and old-school arcade games like Asteroids into something that’s both familiar and unpredictable. It’s a mutant homage to sci-fi tropes past.”—Gawker
“Hugely entertaining…a paean to the videogames of a bygone era, and like Ready Player One it is a tremendous amount of fun for anyone who remembers that time and played those games.”—George R.R. Martin, New York Times bestselling author of Game of Thrones
“A novel so fun, you’ll want to reboot it and read it again . . . the best novel this gamer geek has read in a long, long time.”—Hugh Howey, New York Times bestselling author of Wool
“Those conspiracies you imagined when you were fourteen turn out to be true in this masterful tale of Earth’s desperate struggle against a powerful alien foe.”—Andy Weir, New York Times bestselling author of The Martian
“Armada proves Ernie Cline is the modern master of wish fulfillment literature—and of reminding us to be careful what we wish for.”—John Scalzi, New York Times bestselling author of Old Man’s War
“With another winning teen protagonist in Zach, Cline mines the nostalgia and geek spheres just as successfully as he did in his acclaimed debut, Ready Player One. The works that obviously influenced the story line, such as Orson Scott Card’s Ender’s Game and the films The Last Starfighter and Star Wars, feel like homages rather than borrowings- a rap artist sampling the best beats our there to create an irresistible jam.”—Library Journal (starred review)
“Cline once again brings crackling humor and fanboy knowledge to a zesty, crowd-pleasing, countdown-clock, save-the-planet tale featuring an unlikely hero, adrenaline-pumping action, gawky romance, and touching family moments. . . . Cline’s sly, mind-twisting premise and energetically depicted and electrifying high-tech battles make for smart, frenetic, and satisfying entertainment.”—Booklist (starred review)
Excerpt. © Reprinted by permission. All rights reserved.
I was staring out the classroom window and daydreaming of adventure when I spotted the flying saucer.
I blinked and looked again--but it was still out there, a shiny chrome disc zigzagging around in the sky. My eyes struggled to track the object through a series of increasingly fast, impossibly sharp turns that would have juiced a human being, had there been any aboard. The disc streaked toward the distant horizon, then came to an instantaneous stop just above it. It hovered there motionless over the distant tree line for a few seconds, as if scanning the area beneath it with an invisible beam, before it abruptly launched itself skyward again, making another series of physics-defying changes to its course and speed.
I tried to keep my cool. I tried to remain skeptical. I reminded myself that I was a man of science, even if I did usually get a C in it.
I looked at it again. I still couldn’t tell what it was, but I knew what it wasn’t--it wasn’t a meteor. Or a weather balloon, or swamp gas, or ball lightning. No, the unidentified flying object I was staring at with my own two eyes was most definitely not of this earth.
My first thought was: Holy fucking shit.
Followed immediately by: I can’t believe it’s finally happening.
You see, ever since the first day of kindergarten, I had been hoping and waiting for some mind-blowingly fantastic, world-altering event to finally shatter the endless monotony of my public education. I had spent hundreds of hours gazing out at the calm, conquered suburban landscape surrounding my school, silently yearning for the outbreak of a zombie apocalypse, a freak accident that would give me super powers, or perhaps the sudden appearance of a band of time-traveling kleptomaniac dwarves.
I would estimate that approximately one-third of these dark daydreams of mine had involved the unexpected arrival of beings from another world.
Of course, I’d never believed it would really happen. Even if alien visitors did decide to drop by this utterly insignificant little blue-green planet, no self-respecting extraterrestrial would ever pick my hometown of Beaverton, Oregon--aka Yawnsville, USA--as their point of first contact. Not unless their plan was to destroy our civilization by wiping out our least interesting locales first. If there was a bright center to the universe, I was on the planet it was farthest from. Please pass the blue milk, Aunt Beru.
But now something miraculous was happening here--it was still happening, right now! There was a goddamn flying saucer out there. I was staring right at it.
And I was pretty sure it was getting closer.
I cast a furtive glance back over my shoulder at my two best friends, Cruz and Diehl, who were both seated behind me. But they were currently engaged in a whispered debate and neither of them was looking toward the windows. I considered trying to get their attention, but I was worried the object might vanish any second, and I didn’t want to miss my chance to see this for myself.
My gaze shot back outside, just in time to see another bright flash of silver as the craft streaked laterally across the landscape, then halted and hovered over an adjacent patch of terrain before zooming off again. Hover, move. Hover, move.
It was definitely getting closer. I could see its shape in more detail now. The saucer banked sideways for a few seconds, and I got my first clear glimpse of its top-down profile, and I saw that it wasn’t really a saucer at all. From this angle, I could see that its symmetrical hull resembled the blade of a two-headed battle-axe, and that a black, octagonal prism lay centered between its long, serrated wings, glinting in the morning sunlight like a dark jewel.
That was when I felt my brain begin to short-circuit, because there was no mistaking the craft’s distinctive design. After all, I’d seen it almost every night for the past few years, through a targeting reticle. I was looking at a Sobrukai Glaive, one of the fighter ships piloted by the alien bad guys in Armada, my favorite videogame.
Which was, of course, impossible. Like seeing a TIE Fighter or a Klingon Warbird cruising across the sky. The Sobrukai and their Glaive Fighters were fictional videogame creations. They didn’t exist in the real world--they couldn’t. In reality, videogames did not come to life and fictional spaceships did not buzz your hometown. Implausible shit like that only happened in cheesy ’80s movies, like TRON or WarGames or The Last Starfighter. The sorts of movies my late father had been nuts about.
The gleaming craft banked sideways again, and this time I got an even better look--there was no doubt about it. I was looking at a Glaive, right down to the distinctive claw-like grooves along its fuselage and the twin plasma cannons protruding from the front end like two fangs.
There was only one logical explanation for what I was seeing. I had to be hallucinating. And I knew what sort of people suffered from hallucinations in broad daylight without any help from drugs or alcohol. People who were cuckoo for Cocoa Puffs, that’s who. Cats with a serious marble deficiency.
I’d long wondered if my father had been one such person, because of what I’d read in one of his old journals. The things I’d seen there had given me the impression that he’d become somewhat delusional near the end of his life. That he may have even lost the ability to differentiate between videogames and reality--the very same problem I now seemed to be experiencing myself. Maybe it was just as I had always secretly feared: The apple had fallen right next to the Crazy Tree.
Had I been drugged? No, impossible. All I’d eaten that morning was a raw strawberry Pop-Tart I’d wolfed down in my car on the way to school--and the only thing crazier than hallucinating a fictional videogame spaceship would be to blame it on a frosted breakfast pastry. Especially if I knew my own DNA was a far more likely culprit.
This was my own fault, I realized. I could’ve taken precautions. But instead, I’d done the opposite. Like my old man, I’d spent my entire life overdosing on uncut escapism, willingly allowing fantasy to become my reality. And now, like my father before me, I was paying the price for my lack of vision. I was going off the rails on a crazy train. You could practically hear Ozzy screaming “All aboard!”
Don’t do this, I pleaded with myself. Don’t crack up now, when we’ve only got two months to go until graduation! This is the home stretch, Lightman! Keep it together!
Outside the window, the Glaive Fighter streaked laterally again. As it zoomed over a cluster of tall trees, I saw their branches rustle in its wake. Then it zipped through another cloud bank, moving so fast it punched a perfect circular hole through its center, dragging several long wisps of cloud vapor along with it as it tore out the other side.
A second later, the craft froze in midair one last time before it streaked straight upward in a silver blur, vanishing from sight as quickly as it had appeared.
I just sat there for a moment, unable to do more than stare at the empty patch of sky where it had been a second earlier. Then I glanced around at the other students seated nearby. No one else was looking in the direction of the windows. If that Glaive Fighter had really been out there, no one else had seen it.
I turned back and scanned the empty sky once again, praying for the strange silver craft to reappear. But it was long gone, and now here I was, forced to deal with the aftermath.
Seeing that Glaive Fighter, or imagining I’d seen it, had triggered a small rock slide in my mind that was already growing into a crushing avalanche of conflicting emotions and fragmented memories--all of them linked to my father, and that old journal I’d found among his things.
Actually, I wasn’t even sure it had been a journal. I’d never finished reading it. I’d been too disturbed by its contents, and what they’d seemed to imply about the author’s mental state. So I’d put the old notebook back where I found it and tried to forget that it even existed--and until a few seconds ago, I had succeeded.
But now I couldn’t seem to think about anything else.
I felt a sudden compulsion to run out of the school, drive home, and find it. It wouldn’t take long. My house was only a few minutes away.
I glanced over at the exit, and the man guarding it, Mr. Sayles, our elderly Integrated Mathematics II teacher. He had a silver buzz cut, thick horn-rimmed glasses, and wore the same monochromatic outfit he always did: black loafers, black slacks, a white short-sleeve dress shirt, and a black clip-on necktie. He’d been teaching at this high school for over forty-five years now, and the old yearbook photos in the library were proof that he’d been rocking this same retro ensemble the entire time. Mr. S was finally retiring this year, which was a good thing, because he appeared to have run out of shits to give sometime in the previous century. Today, he’d spent the first five minutes going over our homework assignment, then given us the rest of the period to work on it, while he shut off his hearing aid and did his crosswords. But he would still spot me if I tried to sneak out.
My eyes moved to the ancient clock embedded in the lime green brick wall above the obsolete chalkboard. With its usual lack of pity, it informed me there were still thirty-two minutes remaining until the bell.
There was no way I could take thirty-two more minutes of this. After what I’d just seen, I’d be lucky if I managed to keep my shit together for another thirty-two seconds.
Off to my left, Douglas Knotcher was currently engaged in his daily humiliation of Casey Cox, the shy, acne-plagued kid unfortunate enough to be seated in front of him. Knotcher usually limited himself to lobbing verbal insults at the poor guy, but today he’d decided to go old-school and lob spitballs at him instead. Knotcher had a stack of moist projectiles piled on his desk like cannonballs, and he was currently firing them at the back of Casey’s head, one after another. The back of the poor kid’s hair was already damp with spit from Knotcher’s previous attacks. A couple of Knotcher’s pals were watching from the back of the room, and they snickered each time he nailed Casey with another projectile, egging him on.
It drove me nuts when Knotcher bullied Casey like this--which, I suspected, was one of the reasons Knotcher enjoyed doing it so much. He knew I couldn’t do a damn thing about it.
I glanced at Mr. Sayles, but he was still lost in his crossword, clueless as always--a fact that Knotcher took advantage of on a daily basis. And on a daily basis, I had to resist the urge to knock his teeth down his throat.
Doug Knotcher and I had managed to avoid each other, for the most part, ever since “the Incident” back in junior high. Until this year, when a cruel act of fate had landed us both in the same math class. Seated in adjacent rows, no less. It was almost as if the universe wanted my last semester of high school to be as hellish as possible.
That would have also explained why my ex-girlfriend, Ellen Adams, was in this class, too. Three rows to my right and two rows back, sitting just beyond the reach of my peripheral vision.
Ellen was my first love, and we’d lost our virginity to each other. It had been nearly two years since she’d dumped me for some wrestler from a neighboring school, but every time I saw those freckles across the bridge of her nose--or caught sight of her tossing that curly red hair out of her eyes--I felt my heart breaking all over again. I usually spent the entire class period trying to forget she was in the room.
Being forced to sit between my mortal enemy and my ex-girlfriend every afternoon made seventh-period math feel like my own private Kobayashi Maru, a brutal no-win scenario designed to test my emotional fortitude.
Thankfully fate had balanced out the nightmare equation slightly by placing my two best friends in this class, too. If Cruz and Diehl hadn’t been assigned here, I probably would’ve snapped and started hallucinating shit midway through my first week.
I glanced back at them again. Diehl, who was tall and thin, and Cruz, who was short and stocky, both shared the same first name, Michael. Ever since grade school I had been calling them by their last names to avoid confusion. The Mikes were still engaged in the same whispered conversation they’d been having earlier, before I’d zoned out and started seeing things--a debate over the “coolest melee weapon in the history of cinema.” I tried to focus in on their voices again now.
“Sting wasn’t even really a sword,” Diehl was saying. “It was more like a glow-in-the-dark Hobbit butter knife, used to spread jam on scones and lembas bread and shit.”
Cruz rolled his eyes. “ ‘Your love of the halflings’ leaf has clearly slowed your mind,’ ” he quoted. “Sting was an Elvish blade, forged in Gondolin in the First Age! It could cut through almost anything! And its blade only glowed when it detected the presence of orcs or goblins nearby. What does Mjolnir detect? Fake accents and frosted hair?”
I wanted to tell them what I’d just seen, but best friends or not, there was no way in hell they’d believe me. They’d think of it as another symptom of their pal Zack’s psychological instability.
And maybe it was, too.
“Thor doesn’t need to detect his enemies so he can run off and hide in his little Hobbit hole!” Diehl whispered. “Mjolnir is powerful enough to destroy mountains, and it can also emit energy blasts, create force fields, and summon lightning. The hammer also always returns to Thor’s hand after he throws it, even if it has to tear through an entire planet to get back to him! And only Thor can wield it!” He leaned back.
“Dude, Mjolnir is a bullshit magical Swiss Army knife!” Cruz said. “Even worse than Green Lantern’s ring! They give that hammer a new power every other week, just to get Thor out of whatever asinine fix they’ve written him into.” He smirked. “By the way, lots of other people have wielded Mjolnir, including Wonder Woman in a crossover issue! Google it! Your whole argument is invalid, Diehl!” --This text refers to an alternate kindle_edition edition.
- Publication date : July 14, 2015
- File size : 11772 KB
- Word Wise : Enabled
- Print length : 370 pages
- Publisher : Ballantine Books; Reprint edition (July 14, 2015)
- Language: : English
- ASIN : B00TNDID0O
- Enhanced typesetting : Enabled
- Text-to-Speech : Enabled
- X-Ray : Enabled
- Lending : Not Enabled
- Best Sellers Rank: #9,071 in Kindle Store (See Top 100 in Kindle Store)
- Customer Reviews:
Top reviews from the United States
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The book is fun, the story is fun, the only negative I can give it is that at times the writing seems a little lazy and rushed. It's a simple book that doesn't make you have to think too much. Go into it wanting a fun story about video games training you for a real alien invasion, and not some literary masterpiece, and you won't be disappointed.
A bunch of things happen that you don't care about because you don't care about any of the characters. They have the most basic dialogue and interaction. It's the same level of conversation you'd expect to watch in an episode of Might Morphin' Power Rangers but with cursing sprinkled around in some attempt to punch it up and help you realize Earth's eminent demise. It doesn't work. You'll keep reading because you want to know what happens.
The ending is not good. The one thing is does accomplish is managing to be predictable and nonsensical at the same time. The main characters saves the end of the world and is a hero by ignoring everyone but his dad, who has been hanging out with potheads on the moon. Turns out the whole alien invasion was just a total test. And all those people that died and parts of the world destroy well that's just a casualty of the test. Now the aliens could have just maybe had a conversation with Earth and if they didn't like us blow us to pieces with their obviously advanced technology. Instead they played a game of entrapment for 50 years and hoped we would make the right decision after killing millions of people on our planet. Just dumb. The more I think about it the more I hate it.
I've only written to another author in the past to say how much I love their work, and I did write Mr. Cline, a very heartfelt mail. Since Ready Player One is written to the demographic I'm a part of: Child Geek of the 80's.
So when I finally decided to give Armada a chance (even after reading so many negative reviews), I was hoping that I could still love it despite what ever flaws it would have. Mostly because I loved the first pages in the teaser preview of the book.
Well... I won't go into describing those flaws a lot. And they are MANY!
I will simply say, I never cared for a single character in the book. Each death didn't even elicit a shrug from me, not even one of the main secondary characters. The ending of the book was so full of sleight of hand easy ways out for situations, too much pop culture references (in Ready Player One it made sense because of how the story was set up, here, it's just annoying), terrible dialog, and a very predictable outcome with many ripoffs from stories like Ender's Game, The Last Starfighter and other well known and loved movies/books.
Towards the end, I was simply scrolling through the pages. Completely unattached from the story.
Don't waste your time. If you are expecting a follow up with the same immersive intensity as Ready Player One, that will have you gripped to the story and falling in love with the characters as that book did, then you are in for a big disappointment.
This book feels rushed and lazy.
Sorry Mr. Cline. You dropped the ball on this one.
Top reviews from other countries
Personally I would read this first and then go into Ready Player One as although this book is really good, it's an idea that just seems a little too thin.
When you begin this book though, BARE WITH IT. The first couple of chapters will have you wonder what is going on no matter how hard you try to pay attention. Then after about chapter 3/4 things will start to pick up and from the moment you reach Starbase Ace, things radically improve and escalate. The next 20 or so chapters after that then become an amazing thrill ride, similar to that of ready player one, to then conclude on an ending you probably should have seen coming, and maybe you did.
The premise: Zack Lightman is an 18 year old just months away from graduating. In class, he spots a ship outside much like the ones he fights in the video game Armada. After going what he thinks is crazy, it's not long before he realises the truth... A truth his father had learned about years ago before he died when he was a baby. What follows is a whirlwind of surprises and excitement that I don't want to spoil... Let's just say the game Armada (and it's subgame, Terra Firma) is more real than he thinks...
Honestly. Get this book. Like ready player one, I couldn't put it down, but it's not without flaws which is why it's a 4 and not a 5.
As soon as I finished RP1 I ordered Armada and devoured that in almost one sitting as well.
They say that many author's first novel is their greatest; pulling as it does on so many personal threads and bits of real exposure and exposition. RP1 is that book. The reason being that all of the geek references are mainly real and serve the story, itself being a quasi- Willy Wonka type affair (not a spoiler, I think everyone knows this by now). Whereas Armada draws upon the similar geek genre of RPG and console war and shoot em up games but with made-up references in the main and with a messed up confusing and frankly way-too obvious story as it pans out. The end-of-the-world scenario that serves as the centrepiece of the story is far too easily just accepted by everyone involved that you could be lead to believe that it happens twice a week.
The characterisation is much more 'cookie cutter' (geek meets girl, girl is a rebel, geek and girl fall in love inside 12 minutes) than RP1 and the big revealed twist doesn't shock or make you sit up and nod to yourself with a wry smile like it should. The 'happy ending' of passed-on alien tech that 'makes the world a better place' is just so much 15 year-old wish fulfilment and glosses over the fact that in excess of 30 million people were killed during the course of the story. I was fully expecting to read 'and then I woke up and it was all a dream' at one point - the threads were that all over the place.
I was so disappointed in this follow up and really hope that there is an RP2 in the pipeline rather than anything Armada related because this book just made me want to go and watch The Last Starfighter (not Enders Game - that's a poor young teen version of TLS) all over again, but in HD or on bluray this time.
I really do.
I loved this book, almost as much as Ready Player One, but not quite as much, though I wouldn't be able to explain exactly why! I felt sometimes that the book made quite big leaps in the development of the story, but as soon as this thought entered my head I was carried off and away from the thought quickly.
I felt that Zack's character was really well written, and "honest" in his reactions and feelings on most occasions.
References. Oh the references... this has got to be what I love about Cline's writing. Star Wars, Ender's Game, Star Trek.... Film, games and songs. Genius.
I was definitely a bit reticent about picking up this after I'd read the blurb, as it felt in someways so similar to Ready Player One, and I loved that book so much i was worried that Armada just wouldn't live up to it. But I'm so glad I did, it's different enough in enough ways that although the similarities in style (and to some extent form) are there, it's still totally enjoyable.
I think that the references (of which i probably understood/heard of 80-85% of them) just add a whole extra layer of immersion to the story. When you understand what kind of environment/world/psyche the character lives in it gives you a deeper appreciation and involvement in the story.
I added the "Raid the Arcade" playlist to my Spotify, again I know a lot of the songs already. As I was listening in the shower this morning, I was just transported right back into the book. Having a soundtrack, that wasn't just written for the book (/film/game), added yet another level of immersion to the experience. I've been a gamer in my time (having a baby has put that somewhat on hold) and I can just imagine sat there playing a game, having the soundtrack on and being totally in the zone.
A book that can immerse me with real life references, music, as well as awesome imagery is certainly a winner in my mind. Looking forward to seeing how the film develops.
Also Xavier Ulysses Lightman. What an awesome name!!
The plot is basic - kid with deceased dad discovers he is one of the chosen few because of his great gaming skills that the geeky gaming shop owner has been nurturing for years. Goes off to fight the aliens, meets the insanely hot woman who also quotes back at him, discovers his dad faked his death and is a general in the battle against aliens which our hero then helps him win from a hidden moon base. I kept reading hoping for a clever twist, but even the revelation about alien motivation was signposted from early on.
If I'd been told the author had written this in his high school notebook and kept it in a drawer until after RP1 I wouldn't have been surprised.