Ernest Cline’s – Armada
Very entertaining read.
Cline knows his 80's science fiction.
Quite similar to Ready Player One.
80's referencing can be come quite repetitive.
If you’re a fan of Ernest Cline you could say that since his last release it’s been rather difficult to find another novel of a similar nature, unless of course you’ve read Robopocalypse by Daniel H. Wilson or YOU by Austin Grossman. However in July of this year, Cline finally released Armada, his greatly anticipated follow up to the 2011 science fiction best-seller, Ready Player One, Cline’s first and highly entertaining story that followed Wade Watts and his on-line companions as they fought their way through the virtual world of OASIS to save humanity from Innovative On-line Industries.
With Armada, Cline once again shows off his absolute love of 80’s geek culture, as he unashamedly references films music and video-games throughout the entire story. Films like The Last Starfighter (1984), and Orson Scott Card’s science fiction novel Ender’s Game (1985) feature within Cline’s new story, giving the impression that Cline has been so heavily influenced by these stories, he’s dedicated his latest novel to them.
Following a very similar structure to Ready Player One, Armada is the story of Zack Lightman, an average teenager with anger issues, who, like most, spends his days at school and his nights on-line wishing his actual life was a little bit more like his virtual life. That is until the day Zack sees a spaceship that looks exactly like one of the alien spaceships right out of Zack’s favourite video-game,
Armada. As the story unfolds Zack and a group of gamers, who have some of the highest scores in Armada and Terra Firma, two of the most popular video games in the world, are recruited by the Earth Defence Alliance in a battle to save the whole of mankind. The story contains all the things you’d come to expect from a Cline novel, exciting battles, both in the virtual and real world, references to 80’s science fiction, a bad-ass gamer chick (who Zack falls for), and some exciting plot twists that add to the overall story, even if they don’t arrive until later on in the book. Cline’s focus on keeping the reader engaged is on point, as he moves through the story giving more than enough to make sure you stay glued to the pages.
However, as exciting as Armada is, and as great as the 80’s pop culture references are (I myself got caught up in a phase of hoarding anything from the 80’s) you can’t help but sometimes feel like you’re reading what is essentially Ready Player One, albeit with different characters, which is down to Cline’s narrative structure. The plot, as already mentioned, is very similar to Ready Player One, as it focuses on bunch of high scoring on-line gamers who are recruited to save the world from some form of evil that normally relates to a video-game, and even the though it’s enjoyable, the constant 80’s referencing can sometimes feel like it’s only there to help get the point across that this book is dedicated to everything that inspired it, which isn’t necessarily a bad thing, but it can become quite repetitive, especially if like myself, you’ve already got the fact that this is essentially a love letter to the 1980’s.