Armada by Ernest Cline

Title: Armada
Author: Ernest Cline
Publisher: Crown Publishing
Release Date: July 14, 2015
Source: BEA15

Summary 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.

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.


I know the first thing all you Ready Player One fans are probably wondering is if Armada is as good. To get it out of the way, I will say that I liked RPO more BUT I would probably say I liked RPO more than just about any book I have ever read EVER, so I don't really think that is fair to Armada, or really tells you anything about this book. So that is as far as my comparison will go. Moving on!

Armada was an awesome, geek-tastic, adventure-full, book and I loved it so, so much! Over the past several decades, a secret group known as the Earth Defense Alliance has been working to cover up an escalating conflict with an alien species while simultaneously preparing humanity for an eventual war through targeted movies and video games. As one of the best Armada players in the world, Zack Lightman is recruited to join the EDA in the final hour when the battle is finally at Earth’s figurative doorstep. This is when the fun REALLY begins. The next 300 pages are pretty much an epic alien battle with drones and other more sophisticated machinery that I can’t even pronounce let alone spell. It was pretty freaking great.

I loved the conspiracy theory that served as the basis for this story. Most of it was not outside the realm of possibility even though I do hope that the government doesn’t have us playing Halo and Call of Duty to learn to fight off an alien invasion. I also really enjoyed Zack’s voice which was just the right blend of humorous, honest, and humble. And as with RPO, I just loved all the gamer stuff. Again, this book was just a blast to read.

But it is was also not without it’s sad moments. I mean, Earth is fighting with a technologically-superior species and is far outnumbered. The odds are bleak. People are preparing to die and (spoiler alert) people do die and much damage is wrought. There were a few times I found myself getting choked up. But hey, I didn’t expect it to be all sunshine and rainbows and now neither should you.

This book could have easily been twice the size and I wouldn’t have minded. There is a lot I would have liked to explore in greater depth. That being said, the ending is open ended enough for a sequel and I’m hoping Ernest Cline will surprise us with one. But I would happily settle for ANYTHING Ernest Cline deigns to write because he is amazingly talented and a new favorite author of mine. This is a MUST read for RPO fans, gamers, geeks, fun-lovers, my friends & loyal subjects, readers, and whoever else doesn’t fall into one of the aforementioned groups.

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