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Armada: A novel by the author of Ready Player One Paperback – April 12, 2016
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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
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Why is this guy celebrated as some sort of God of all Geeks? He wants us to be in awe of his useless trivia knowledge. His characters' inner monologues practically DEMANDS it from you. The thing about Cline is his pop-culture interests are extremely very specific to himself, but he apparently assumes because you're reading his books, that you like only the things he does without question, yet still feels it necessary to include rare "easter egg" references for the hard core reference-hungry people. His "80's" knowledge consists entirely of references that range from the 60s to the 90s, yet is under the umbrella of "80's" nostalgia. Cline has somehow made "Twilight" a respectable work of fiction when compared to his scribblings of lists of 80s things he liked. What sort of dark sorcery makes this even possible?
For this story itself. Zack is every hard core shooter gamer shouting at you on Xbox Live, and you're supposed to worship him for it. I don't like him. And every time he uses a reference "I felt like Luke Skywalker..." it actually cheapens the reference. I can hardly look at Luke Skywalker, or Alex Rogan, or whatever third and fourth reference he includes in the one paragraph (because he can't just do one reference at a time! No, he hits you with typically 3 to 4 at a time!), anymore because I know that at some point, Zack Lightman felt like them! It's beaten into your brain repeatedly during his narrative, for the sole purpose of reminding you of what better thing Cline is ripping off to make this story.
This book is a struggle to get through at first. There are 4 pages in the first couple of chapters that is just a list of Star Wars and Video Game references. It goes on for FIVE. PAGES. Poor Wil Wheaton spends over 5 minutes having to read this in the audiobook. And every time a reference to something comes up, you wonder why you aren't just watching that instead. And then you roll your eyes because you know three more references to other similar things are coming before you can continue on with the story. "I felt like Like Skywalker" OKAY, one is good enough! move ON! "or Alex Rogan" ...come on! "or Starbuck from Battlestar Galactica" ..I GET IT!!! OH MY GOD!
Only caveat I have is around the middle of the book, it starts to pick up and it's a little easier to read as you start to get into the story a bit once the action starts happening. But in the end, is it worth struggling through Cline's self indulgence to read a story you've most likely seen done better elsewhere?
The story of Zach Lightman is literally one we’ve heard before, but the changes and twist are still fun to watch unfold. Perhaps you’ve heard of Luke Skywalker, (cough, cough) Wade Watts, heck even Daniel LaRusso aka Daniel Son- well then, in a way, you’ve met Zach Lightman already.
In Ready Player One, Cline showed readers a world where virtual reality was the only reality that mattered. In Armada, he shows how conspiracy theories and art (i.e. science fiction) is a true reflection of reality. By comparison, instead of being trapped in the Matrix, our characters are living in Zion, the last human city, getting ready to learn that the Matrix exists. They’ll have a few brief moments to decide if Zion is worth fighting for or concede to be consumed by the program…
A little dramatic I know, but that’s kind of how this book is. Plus, I’m pretty sure it makes reference to every science fiction book, movie, and TV show to ever be Tweeted about. It’s not an original idea, but the execution is great and the characters are entertaining.
The beginning is slow but humorous and then the sh** hits the fan. There are secrets being kept from all sides and a mystery that only a few are willing to pursue. It’s a good story, but somewhat predictable. Still, I liked every minute of it. I let myself get caught up in all the characters, however brief their stories might have been, ‘cause some didn’t make it very long, and I think that made all the difference.
The ending was a bit unsettling for me. If there’s going to be a follow-up, I think it’s a fantastic ending, if not, I feel it leaves to many unanswered questions; it harkens back to the ending of Childhood’s End (see not so original, but still good). In any case, it still a satisfying ending, if not also sad, in some ways.
Recommended to fans of science fiction and video games. For this one, I fear that people who are not into at least one, but probably both of these criteria, may not enjoy or even “get” this book.
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.