NEW YORK TIMES BESTSELLER • A rollicking alien invasion thriller that embraces and subverts science-fiction conventions, from the author of the worldwide phenomenon Ready Player One
“Exciting . . . mixes Star Wars, The Last Starfighter, Independence Day, and a really gnarly round of Space Invaders.”—USA Today • “A thrilling coming of age story.”—Entertainment Weekly
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.
But even through the terror and exhilaration, he can't help thinking: Doesn't something about this scenario feel a little bit like . . . well . . . fiction?
At once reinventing and paying homage to science-fiction classics, Armada is a rollicking, surprising thriller, a coming-of-age adventure, and an alien invasion tale like nothing you've ever read before.
- ISBN10 0804137250
- ISBN13 9780804137256
- Publish Date 14 July 2015
- Publish Status Active
- Publish Country US
- Publisher Random House USA Inc
- Imprint Ballantine Books Inc.
- Format Hardcover
- Pages 368
- Language English
- URL https://penguinrandomhouse.com/books/isbn/9780804137256
Initial thoughts: What stellar narration from Wil Wheaton! Listening to the audiobook certainly is a huge contributing factor to my enjoyment of something that usually wouldn't be my kind of book. Hard core gaming? Aliens? Excessive pop culture references? None of these are things I care much for and yet I had a blast with Armada.
I think that subject matter aside, Armada did well in presenting relatable characters as well as a huge conflict interspersed with minor ones. The resolutions came with caveats and ambiguity yet I felt satisfied at the end of the ride.
My only reason for holding back on full five stars is that Armada didn't blow me away as an original story — I found it a little predictable, reminiscent of science fiction books I used to read over a decade ago.
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.
Armada was another book I read along with my boyfriend. We loved Ready Player One a lot, all of the nostalgia and geeky references were just perfect for us. So we marked our calendars, bought the book the day it came out…and promptly decided to read something else. Wah wah. However, poor planning aside when we finally decided to start it was really hard to keep pace with each other and not read the entire thing in one go.
Like RPO Armada starts out as a slow build and ramps up to a break neck speed by the last 70% of the book, with a few little slowly moments here and there to give you a breather, or the illusion of one. It took a lot of twists and turns, many of which I wasn’t fully expecting and made the whole ride a lot of fun. I’ve seen complaints about the book lacking true description because of the use of references, and all I have to say is…if you don’t enjoy movie/game/tv/music references in your books then sit it out. I didn’t get 100% of the references but there was enough to go on in the context that I knew exactly what the author was trying to say. The action is on point and has a ton of moments where any video game nerd wanting to put on a VR helmet and pilot a badass piece of tech (though maybe not in a real life situation like this). And I think that’s one of the best things about Cline’s books, he makes you want to revisit your past while also making you excited for all the cool stuff the future holds. It’s a brilliant mix.
Zack Lightman is a gamer, and a very good one at that. He’s full of references from his favorite movies, games and music…and he is pretty damn brave as well, though he can definitely push forward into the “dear god don’t do that” character mold too. I really liked Zack. I like how close he is with his mom (yay for YA parent who actually exist!) and his love of all things geeks, and the fact that he’s not afraid to stand up for himself and others (though the anger probably needs to be stunted). In fact I really like what Cline did with all of the characters and it’s a pretty diverse group. We have several different races, plenty of different backgrounds, different religious beliefs, all uniting for a common cause. I loved the dynamic between the general, Shin, and Graham… and I really loved the closeness of Debbie and her family.
Overall it’s an awesome book! I probably enjoyed Ready Player One more, just because I’m a riddle fiend and really love RPG MMOs more than would be considered healthy, but Armada was an incredibly fun read that I barely put down (even when I was supposed to).
I loved this book! It is a very different book from Ready Player One. Where that book delved deep into 80s pop culture, this one focuses on science fiction movies and video games. I know way more about the 80s than I do about video games but I was able to follow along with Armada just fine.
Full review at http://www.spiritblog.net/?p=9024
Armada follows the story of Zack, who's only interest seems to be as a gamer and trudging his way through school. Along with friends Diehl and Cruz, each night their crusade is to save the world against an alien invasion sees Zack raising higher in the global ranks, sitting at a respectable sixth place from millions of players worldwide. But this isn't a game, it's Earth Defense Alliance training, an organisation who have been tracking the alien invaders for decades. The son of a gamer, Zack's late father was embroiled in the conspiracy that was the gaming industry just before his death, leaving behind notebooks of theories and pop culture references all pointing to the invasion. More than a decade before Armada was even released.
Similar to Ender's Game, but rather gamers of any age are recruited to fight against the enemy based on their skill level. Only the Armada back story and in game descriptions were too heavy and told in large blocks making it difficult for non gamers to immerse themselves within the storyline. It was clinical and the humour readers enjoyed throughout Ready Player One was missing, with one dimensional characters in it's place. I can imagine that Zack is unrelatable to anyone other than gamers, and his overall plight felt more like a scenario dreamed up by a male teen gamer, save the world, get the girl. It's as though Ernest Cline took every popular science fiction reference and scattered them all throughout the storyline, Carl Sagan, A Space Odyssey and from Space Invaders to Ender's Game. Where in Reader Player One is was infused as a journey for kids of the eighties, in Armada it felt forced and a little like blatant name dropping sadly.
I was mildly entertained, when I had really been expected to be dazzled by the Ernest Cline intellect and ability to immerse readers into his world.
I was still able to enjoy Armada on some level, but really quite disappointed by the release that probably should have been titled Ready Player Ender. For fans of gaming and those who need to play the hero, but sadly not for me.
I had been waiting for Armada to be published from the moment I finished Ready Player One back in 2013. Despite my attempts to stop requesting ARCs on Netgalley until I raised my ratio, I just couldn’t stop myself when I saw Armada.
It was everything I wanted, and expected, from Ernest Cline. Pop culture references galore, every one relevant. A fantastic sense of humour. Fast-paced action. And video games – I can’t seem to get enough of books about or that involve video games. When the book opens we are introduced to Zack, an apparently ordinary teenager, living with his mum in a small town in Oregon. He daydreams through his classes and spends his free time playing an online game, called Armada with his two best friends. Soon we learn more – Zack has quite a temper on him, and he never quite got over the death of his father when he was only one year old. His father was a huge fan of science fiction – video games, films, books – and Zack has inherited this passion, along with his father’s collection, including his journals. Journals which detail conspiracy theories on how the government are using video games to train people for extraterrestrial combat, Ender’s Game style.
It turns out that Zack’s father was right, and Zack soon finds himself enlisted in the Earth Defense Alliance. This happens early on in the book, and from there on out Armada is an incredibly fast-paced and action-packed story. To me, this story did not feel as ‘big’ as Ready Player One, in that the reader only gets to see a few locations. However, this did not detract from my immersion into the plot, and I was cheering every character along every step of the way. Cline’s writing meant I could easily visualise each action scene as it happened.
With references from Star Trek to The Lord of the Rings, plus more subtle ones to games such as Portal, as well as ‘appearances’ from famous scientists, Armada will draw readers in with its link to our very own lives. Armada is, ultimately, a love letter to old school alien invasion sci-fi that also pokes some fun at the genre, one that many sci-fi fans will find themselves equally as in love with. Highly, HIGHLY recommended for all fans of Cline’s previous novel, Ready Player One, as well as any classic science fiction fan.
Throughout the book, Zack refers to his father’s ‘Raid the Arcade’ playlist, which he uses for gaming. I have recreated this playlist on Spotify, although sadly without the AC/DC tracks which aren’t on there.