Armada by Ernest Cline


by Ernest Cline

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 WarsThe Last StarfighterIndependence 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.

Reviewed by inlibrisveritas on

5 of 5 stars

4.5 Stars

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).

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Reading updates

  • Started reading
  • 17 August, 2015: Finished reading
  • 17 August, 2015: Reviewed