Armada by Ernest Cline, 2015
Genre: YA Sci-Fi,
Page Length: 349 Pages
Publication Date: July 14th, 2015
Publisher: Crown publishing
Source: Physical copy from Blogging for Books
Stars: 1.5 out of 5
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
My motto when it comes to reviews is to “simply discuss what your reading experience was like and your overall enjoyment of the book”. So in order to fully develop an opinion and to write a well thought out review I’m going to have to break it up into two parts; why I DNF’ed Armada, and my thoughts after I picked it up again and finished it.
Why I DNF’ed Armada:
At page 127 I decided that I was no longer going to read Armada. For the following reasons:
1. You really need to be into video games and the 80’s to be able to appreciate Armada. I for one, have never played a video game in my life and I absolutely detest the 80’s. So right away I could tell that I wasn’t going to like this book very much. You know, I don’t even know where to begin. Should I talk about how for the first 127 pages if it’s not a reference to a sci-fi movie released between the years 1970-1998 it’s reading about the intricacies of spending every waking second of your life playing a video game? I mean, there are pages just filled with stupid video game mission which, by the way, really didn’t have a huge impact on the plot.
2.I hated every single character in this book but, if I had to choose a most hated character it would be Max. Which if you couldn’t already tell by the synopsis he’s our main character. My irritation with Zach Lightman begins with his obsessive behavior. And no, it’s not like he has OCD or a mental illness he is just completely obsessed with his dead father. So instead of moving on from the loss of a man who he can’t remember he completely transforms himself into him. Zach drives his car, wear his clothes, listens to his music, and basically has transformed his room into a shrine. Which I thought was kinda weird but I could have overlooked it if it hadn’t been all of those ‘80s pop culture references! I swear I nearly threw this book in the trash after the 100th mention of Queen.
3. The plot and character development suffered because the focal point was shifted to making sure that we could visualize the setting. Usually I really appreciate it when authors make sure that their readers can get a sense of what the setting is like but when it evolves into overly describing everything it becomes annoying after a while. So many pages of this book are simply dedicated to describing EVERY. LITTLE .DETAIL. ABOUT. A. SPACESHIP! Which was a huge waste of time because after reading all 349 pages of this book I still could not visualize what the spaceship and the EDA base looked like.
4. It took forever to get the plot rolling. This book can be described as many things, a waste of time, boring, predictable but one thing that you could never say about Armada is that it’s fast paced. It takes over a hundred pages for it to start to get interesting and then instead of continuing forward with the story and at this pace, it’s like the plot gets side tracked because it evolves into ( see number 3.) descriptions!
It was at this time when I made this decision to put down the book. Even though I wasn’t enjoying it I was very conflicted when I DNF’ed it. I felt like I had an obligation to finish it because I had been sent a finished copy for review. So after two months I decided to resume reading it.
My thoughts after I picked it up again and finished it:
5. I will concede that as it went on I was more involved in the plot and understanding the reasons behind the invasion. But in the typical Ernest Cline manner it’s put on the back burner so that more stupid analogies can be worked into the story. I mean, why work on a plot when you can have these brilliant quotes?
“I’d felt like a young Clark Kent, preparing to finally learn the truth about his origins from the holographic ghost of his own long-dead father.”
“What if they’re using videogames to train us to fight without us even knowing it? Like Mr Miyagi in The Karate Kid, when he made Daniel-san paint his house, sand his deck, and wax all of his cars – he was training him and he didn’t even realize it! Wax on, wax off – but on a global scale!”
“The only thing crazier than hallucinating a fictional videogame spaceship would be to blame it on a frosted breakfast pastry.”
“Now I feel bad,” Diehl said. “Like we’re about to nuke Aquaman. Or the Little Mermaid.…”
“Pretend they’re Gungans,” Cruz suggested. “And that we get to nuke Jar Jar.”
What the heck is this?! Are we now calling drivel like this dialogue?
6.I didn’t care about anyone because there really wasn’t much to care about. I have no idea why the author thought that a better alternative to developing characters was to describe them by nerdy sci-fi reference than to actually develop emotions and personalities. None of the characters had depth or emotion, and most of the characters development relied heavily on making sure that we knew that there was cultural diversity within EDA. Which may sound weird but that’s how the story unfolded. Most of the time we were told more about what country they came from and their “call sign” than about who they were as (fictional) people. This made them so boring to read about! The only time they started getting interesting was when they started dying. Which sounds awful but it’s the truth.
7. The EDA was like watching a bunch of nerds play dress-up and start calling themselves “General” and “Admirals”. It was seriously the dumbest thing that I have read in my entire life. Here we have military officials who are more interested in spending time cracking jokes and reminiscing about the good ol’ days when they killed aliens from safety of their base than “saving the world”. You know, because it’s not like they have any official training in military strategy and/or combat. Are we really supposed to believe that a bunch of never-seen-daylight gamers are the only hope for humanity ? Like okay, aliens are invading the world let’s entrust billions of dollars worth of equipment so that people who have chosen not to have a social life outside of playing video games can SAVE THE WORLD! But then again, nothing has made any sense so far, might as well go and make this dork fantasy a little bit more unbelievable.
9.If you keep reading this hoping that it gets better don’t. It actually only gets worse. I don’t want to say too much about the ending because I don’t want to to spoil anything for those unfortunate people who will one day read Armada. But, yeah, it was pretty dumb. It was one of those” there are only thirty pages left, time to wrap it up!” endings. Just thinking about it upsets me because I ended up wasting so much time on this book for it to be a horrible joke of a book.
Overall, this book is a waste of time. I would not recommend picking it up unless you like plot hole, ridiculous endings, and absurd dialogue.
Thank you so much Crown Publishing and Blogging for Books for providing me with a physical copy for review. In compliance with FTC guidelines, I must state that I received this book for free and was in no way compensated for my review.
So tell me in the comments below have you ever read a book by an acclaimed author and disliked it? What are your sci-fi books? Or did you like this book? If so, what did you like about it?