Armada: Book Review by Dinh.
Zack Lightman has never much cared for reality. He vastly prefers the countless science-fiction movies, book, 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 to psychosis.
Especially because the alien ship he’s staring at is straight out of his favorite videogame, a flight simulator called 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 revelations 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 fate in the balance.
But even through the terror and exhilaration, he can’t help thinking: Doesn’t something about this scenario feel a little like…well…fiction?
Synopsis from paperback book edition, contains 355 pages, copyright 2015 and was published by Broadway Books.
I was anticipating a good read from Ernest Cline’s Armada after I had read and really enjoyed his first book Ready Player One, but I was highly disappointed.
The highly entertaining Ready Player One, with it’s unique story line and quirky eighties trivia references worked well in the first book, and was a tough act to follow, but I still had hoped Armada would be at least somewhat entertaining. How wrong I was!
I was looking forward to Armada being all the things that I loved in Ready Player One, but it was not exciting or fun and to be brutally honest, I found it to be boring.
There were so many things I didn’t like about this book. Let me explain.
The story opens up with an intriguing hook, and instead of hooking you into the story it does the opposite. I am afraid it was downhill all the way. The plot was unoriginal and predictable right from the beginning.
” I was staring out of the classroom window and daydreaming of adventure when I spotted the flying saucer.”
This first line of Armada was intriguing and attention grabbing, but what followed was uninteresting.
The book is broken down into three phases. In Phase one, we find out a bit about Zack and his life. Phase two and three are about Zack getting recruited and how he fights the alien drones.
The basic plot is alien space invaders, which I love. I also loved that idea that gamers who play video games are in training to combat the aliens. I had sort of expected a similar story line having read Ready Player One but that was not the problem.
Sometimes there’s nothing wrong with having a predictable story line if the book actually comes together and everything works but the whole book was just executed poorly.
The first part of the bad execution was the writing.
I thought that the writing was for middle school kids. Now there’s nothing wrong with it in that aspect if that’s your target audience. But it was not for me and I don’t think it worked for the book.
Armada is written from Zack’s viewpoint so you do expect him to have teenage views. However, having the main character as a teen does not mean it can’t be written in a way that engages the reader.
I am sorry to say that Armada put me to sleep. It was a horse tranquilizer for me each night. I had to force myself to read a chapter a day just to finish it. When I put it down I was not interested in picking it up, even when it was near the end!
Another thing that didn’t work in this book was the over abundant use of pop culture references.
What an overload! It worked well in Ready Player One and but it was just way too much in Armada! Seriously, while most of us enjoy an occasional pop culture reference we do not need it in our face.
In the first part of the book, there were at least one pop culture reference on each page, I kid you not. Now, I would like to fire the editor who let Cline stuff all those references in. C’mon, use some common sense! Don’t do it for the sake of trying to be geeky. Do it properly, do it if it makes sense to the story…
Don’t get me started on the characters! Here’s how I feel about the characters -The characters are blah, blah, and blah.
Having read the book, I really can say that the main characters were not memorable. There was no substance to any of the characters and nothing that made you connect towards them. Basically, I didn’t care about any of them or their plight.
My Final Thoughts
I was looking forward to another fun read from Ernest Cline’s Armada but what I got was a boring and disappointing read. The unoriginal plot, forgettable characters and the overuse of pop culture references, combined with the style of writing that was very juvenile, wore me down and did not entice me to pick up the book.
Although I didn’t enjoy Armada, I will still check out any new work that Cline comes out with. You never know, he may surprise us all with another good book.