Armada Book Review

Armada: Book Review by Dinh.

2.5 stars


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.

Find Ernest Cline: |Website | Twitter | Facebook |

Armada Book


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.

Predictable Plot

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.
Armada Book Review

Poor Writing

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…

Ernest Cline Armada

Boring Characters

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.

Armada is available here.  Listen to it for free with an Audible trial.

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12 thoughts on “Armada Book Review

  1. Wow, this is a complete 180 from what you thought of Ready Player One! I know I want to read one of his novels, but I know I will not be starting with this one for sure. I am so sorry there were all these elements to it that you didn’t like. Poor writing would be the hardest to deal with though — as it encompasses and affects everything in the story.

    1. Hi Olivia!
      It was a big disappointment for me. I had such high hopes for it and I think Cline copied way too many things from his first book. It just didn’t work.

      Thanks for stopping by! 🙂

  2. I’m such a sucker when it comes to book covers, and I would have thought this might have been my kind of book along with the synopsis! But yikes! I’m glad to have read your review…I loved the horse tranquilizer reference since we really do use them on the farm here! Great review…Linda B

    1. Hi Linda!
      Was it a bit harsh with the horse tranquilizer reference? I couldn’t stay awake to read it. I liked the book cover too but you win some and you lose some…

  3. Hiya, Dinh. Gloves of this time and a knockout blow from you.

    This book sounds a bit rubbish, eh? So thanks for the heads-up and will give it a miss – even on audio as I usually listen to books.

    Have fun and enjoy life always – Andre

    1. Hi Andre!
      Having read Cline’s other book (Ready Player One) which was so much better I was hoping that this would be on the same level but it was a flop for me.
      There was no excitement and I just couldn’t get into it.
      Better luck next time?

  4. Ernest Cline’s Armada sounds like it could have been more enjoyable if you hadn’t read Ready Player One, yes? But, there seems to be quite a few issues with this story that I wouldn’t enjoy much either. I think I’m a encountering a bit of YA burn-out. =) I just read back-to-back adult fiction and I loved it! Hopefully, your next read by this author is better. Love your more critical reviews, Dinh.

    1. Hi Lonna!
      I am not sure whether I would have enjoyed Armada more even if I didn’t read Ready Player One. It wasn’t exciting or fun or had much going for it. It was very formulaic and no depth at all. It was boring.

      I love YA reads because most of the time it’s fun to read them. I hope Cline’s next book is better. Hopefully he would have read the reviews and taken notes for his next book.

      What adult fiction did you just read? I am curious in the type of books that you go for. 🙂

      1. Haha…I read The Boy on the Bridge by MR Carey. Review for that coming soon. He has a way of writing that’s so heartfelt and haunting.

        1. Hi Lonna,
          I haven’t read any MR Carey but did enjoy The Girl with all the Gifts movie. I’d expect he’s probably really good if they made a movie of his book.

          I’ll look out for you review 🙂

    1. Hi Erica!
      I am glad I didn’t put you off the book. I was so disappointed with it. Oh well, I guess we can’t love all the books the author writes.
      I just hope Cline’s next book is good.:)

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