Armada by Ernest Cline Book Review

armada.jpgErnest Cline is most known for his best-selling novel Ready Player One. It received praise and awards for the pop culture and 80s video game themed creation. Around me, this book and the way in which Cline incorporated the love people have for video games, with the future, into the real world, enthralled many of my friends. I, on the other hand, didn’t like it. I can’t necessarily say it was due to his particular writing style or the foundation of his plot because, on the contrary, I really enjoyed those aspects of the book. For me, I think what I didn’t like was how unlikeable I found the main narrator, Wade, to be. In all honesty I found a lot of the characters in Ready Player One to be unlikeable which then, in consequence made my reading experience not enjoyable.

Armada is a completely different story (I just noticed the pun in that sentence). It was thrilling, addicting and an absolutely wonderful ride to go on and I couldn’t put it down and was up till almost 4AM every night reading it. A short summary of the story: Zack Lightman is a teenager with almost a month to go before graduating and has an obsession with a video game called Armada. Armada is a game based on a flight battle sequence against alien invaders and Zack is one of the top ten best players worldwide. He lives alone with his mother, after the death of his father in a horrific accident, playing video games and wishing the real world could become more like a video game. Then one day in school he sees a flying saucer that looks identical to the ones in Armada. What then follows is Zack’s adventure as he attempts to save the world as well as make some tough decisions that can make or break the future of humankind.

There was a downside to it as I felt the aesthetic feeling of the book was extremely similar to Ready Player One. It used a heavy amount of similar videogame references, especially in relation to the classic arcade game files Zack finds in a box as well as a similar use of foundations for the story such as a teenager who feels isolated in the world he’s living in and as if he “doesn’t fit in.” He’s also got the characteristics of being a hopeless romantic (such as with his relationship with Ellen and then later on Lex), which is similar to Wade in Ready Player One with Art3mis. There is also the similar experience of having the usernames shown throughout the book and then the characters behind them revealed later on, though I did enjoy all the other characters in Armada more.

If you are a massive fan of Star Wars, Star Trek, RPG Video Games, old music references as well as a throwback to a lot of theories and rumors created by people in the past around the use of video games to train young teens into learning how to programme and fight, then this is definitely the book for you. I have been a fan of RPG games for quite a few years (though I am not an expert or pro by any means) and this book, in that respect, fascinated me. Also, if you enjoyed Ready Player One, it’s pretty safe to say that you will most definitely enjoy this book as the energetic and hilariously-funny-at-times moments are woven throughout the book so brilliantly.

Language/Style: 8 points
Story: 7 points
Plot: 7 points
Chracters: 8 points

Favorite Part: “I’m sort of like Q in the James Bond films. Except, you know, I only get to hand out this one thing.”

What is written below includes SPOILERS in the book.

 I do have a few more things I want to mention that I can’t without throwing in a few spoilers from the book to further back-up my points so I’ve chosen to make this the section for people who’ve already read the book.

What was essentially the most disappointing part for me throughout this book was the endless amount of clichés and obvious attempts of foreshadowing that were so transparent and therefore limited the amount of surprises and shocks I got. This was in the constant referral to “The Incident” which I already suspected to be as unimportant as it was when it was revealed. There was an incessant amount of reference back to the fact that Zack has “anger issues” which could link back to the death of his father and yet it wasn’t a consistent reference and seemed to be thrown in at points when it was needed. Being an avid YA reader, I also saw the reveal of his father still being alive from a mile away. The fact “nobody saw the body” and the notebook of his theories of the government wanting to train people through video games? It was so inherently obvious that he was going to be there in the army base waiting for him having to have “gone undercover.” Admiral Vince’s decision to carry on to send the Icebreaker was also another plot point that seemed obvious. In a typical YA novel you always need that “baddie” to essentially create an obstacle for the “hero” to overcome no matter how innocent they are and believe they are justifiably doing the right thing.

I did notice, even though I haven’t watched the movies myself and I am getting sat down in about a week to sit through the entire series and the new release, that Cline did attempt to make Zack to be an almost Luke Skywalker character. Zack constantly made references to moments in the movies that paralleled with himself at that moment in time, he had “daddy issues” (and had that infamous moment “Luke I am your father” when he realizes his father is in fact alive) and yearns to be something bigger and greater than what he is.
A part I did find to be quite humorous was the romantic couplings that happened as soon as people began to realize the world was “coming to the end” which made Grahams sudden death all the more surprising (even if it was the only surprise I had).
In conclusion to both my previous part of the review and this spoiler-full part, I believe this was an enjoyable read. It wasn’t anything out of the ordinary per say as this concept and idea has been done before but Ernest Cline’s style of writing made it that much more inviting and fun to read. I can definitely say it is screen-ready and a movie will (if it’s not already) be in the works. (If so totally cast me, I can act I promise.) That’s all for now.

“I’ll be back.”

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