Armada by Ernest Cline – Book Review

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Armada by Ernest Cline

Published on 16th July 2015 by Century (Penguin Random House)

Format: Hardback

Pages: 349

ISBN: 978-1-780-89304-4

I have many geeky interests and one of them happens to be science fiction. Armada is a book that combines elements of classic science fiction with classic video games. Ernest Cline has once again wrote a book that expresses his geek passions in an exciting way.

Zack Lightman is a teenager in his last year of high school, who enjoys playing video games when not at school. Zack has lost his father at a young age but has in a way got to know him through pursuing the same geeky interests. Those interests include science fiction films like Star Wars and books like Ender’s Game. Zack’s main passion is a video game called Armada where drones are controlled to fight off alien ships. Fiction becomes reality when he finds out that the game was a training exercise for the real thing, a real alien attack on Earth.

Armada is a book that is there to be devoured. It has a fast-moving plot with plenty of action. The plot feels like a combination of Ender’s Game and Star Wars, which for me created a movie in my head as good as many action packed science fiction novels. The references to geek popular culture are less random than Ready Player One, which creates a more focused plot.

Zack’s character for me helped drive the story forward. His conversations with his geeky friends and his relationship with Lex leaves me as the reader wanting more. The choices that Zack faces in this book show how flawed humans can be. Should war used to achieve power, or should people try to talk to each other and find a peaceful settlement?

Armada has many plus points as a science fiction novel. It uses the themes previously explored in science fiction books and films, and combines it with more modern technology, like video games and drones. The chapters involving the drone fighters reminds me of the epic battle of above the Death Star in Star Wars. Moreover, the idea that gamers could unite and save the world is a nice touch is promoting a positive image of gamers.

My only negative opinion about this book, is that it felt too short. Armada is a shorter novel compared with Ready Player One. Although Ready Player One required a lot of world building to make the novel work, whereas Armada does not have the same obstacle. On the other hand, Armada is an interesting read and suitable for everyone, not exclusively to gamers.

Rating: 4/5 stars

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