My name is Ardis and I am an avid reader and budding writer. I want to share my love of books with others. I work with kids and am interested in finding and creating books that will ignite the reader in everyone. Contact me at: ardis.atkins@gmail.com

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Wednesday, November 4, 2015

Book Review: Armada by Ernest Cline

Synopsis (From GoodReads):

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.


I listened to the audiobook version of this read by the amazing Will Wheaton (He also did the audiobook of Ernest Cline's other book, Ready Player One.).  In Armada, the main character, Zack Lightman, learns of a coming alien invasion of Earth.  He and other gamers have, unwittingly, been training to pilot missions to defend the Earth every time they log on to the online game called Armada.  I think it is a gamer's dream to actually turn what one loves (playing video games) into something that would have enormous significance.  So I think gamers will enjoy the premise of hard-core players saving the day.

Although I enjoyed this book, the plot devise of the military using video games to train people for combat seems to mirror other science fiction novels such as Ender's Game, by Orson Scott Card.   There are even references to it in this book!  However, if the reader can get past this, I think this will be an enjoyable read.

Ernest Cline takes this premise and super-sizes it.  It's not just a few people training for combat, but millions of people from all walks of life (and all ages) fighting the aliens.  The cynic in me was waiting for it all to be an elaborate stunt like with the real-life broadcast of The War of The Worlds back in 1938.  But, in the universe of this book, it is really happening.  At times, it was difficult to willingly suspend my disbelief long enough to buy in to the proceedings.  Once the aliens are discovered, there is a global conspiracy to hid it from the public.  I think a world-wide cover up of this magnitude would be impossible to do.  And there are other plot points that are flimsy such as the Earth reverse engineering all the alien technology (and keeping it a secret) that I found hard to believe.

But, the personal story of the main character, Zack, is gripping as he tries to live with the aftermath of his father's death.  Zack never knew his dad, as he died when he was a baby.  His rage and need to prove himself is realistic and moving.  Zack doesn't know what he will do with his life after graduating from high school.  Everyone is pressing him to come up with a plan.  All he knows is that he can escape from growing up by tapping in to an online game (Armada) and momentarily forget what looms ahead.   Then, the game becomes real and Zack must decide to take on a huge responsibility: Saving the world!  Will he be selfless and risk his own life in order to make a difference?  Can he control his anger and impulsiveness long enough to follow orders?  As with his other book, Ready Player One, Ernest Cline explores to issues of today's society cocooning themselves in a virtual world.  These are themes that are so relevant to our times.  The author uses science fiction to make these issues entertaining, and I couldn't stop listening!

Source: Public Library
Format:  Audiobook
Recommendation: It was a fun science-fiction read, but be willing to not question it's logic in order to enjoy it.
Will I read more from this author:  Yes!

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  1. I haven't read the Ready Player One but I saw it more than once on some of my friends reviews and it's also on my TBR since then.. This sounds intriguing and great.. the premise kind of reminds me of the movie Pixels! Great review Ardy! will definitely check this one out :)

    P.S I have a Giveaway on my blog.. I hope you can give it sometime to join! :)

    Donita @ My Random Book Thoughts

  2. Hi Donita! I haven't seen Pixels, but I really enjoyed Armada. I think I liked it also because I thought the narration by Will Wheaton was wonderful. Thanks for stopping by my blog.


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