Review: Armada by Ernest Cline



Review: Armada by Ernest ClineArmada by Ernest Cline
Published by Crown Publishing on July 14th 2015
Genres: Sci-Fi
Pages: 349
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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.


“I was staring out the classroom window and daydreaming of adventure when I spotted the flying saucer.”

This book is all about the pop culture video gaming gratuity. It’s video games and alien invasions galore, kids getting to be heroes when they realize all their gaming was actually training for a real-life alien invasion. I totally loved the concept but it didn’t quite win me over like Ready Player One.

The story follows Zack Lightman, 6th best Armada player, as he navigates some teenagedom, some conspiracies and an alien invasion. The story is very similar to many sci-fi movies/books such as The Last Starfighter and Ender’s game. Cline overloads the book with pop culture references which is both fun and annoying for me. It actually really reminded me of Futurama’s Anthology of Interest II where they do Space Invaders.

Futurama - space invaders

The biggest issue I had with this book was the characters, or rather the lack of fully-fleshed characters which was disappointing. We’re introduce to a bunch of the top 10 Armada players (who all have pretty interesting back stories!) and there’s just so much potential there! But instead all we go were cardboard cut characters that only really cared about hooking up before the end of the world. sigh. And our hero Zack wasn’t too terribly much better. There’s also a sorta awkward, gratuitous romance, which I didn’t mind, but I wish it was less insta-romance. There was one character that I totally loved and rooted for though.

That being said though, for the most part it was still a fun read, with lots of geeky sci-fi-ness and adventuring. It just easily could have been fantastic which is why it was disappointing when it wasn’t. Oh and that part at the end of the book, it didn’t happen. >|

Overall, it was an enjoyable read but lacked the heart to be amazing. It didn’t help that it just seemed lacking in all departments compared to Ready Player One. If you are a sci-fi fan of the pop culture nature, then you still might want to check this out.

“I’d spent my entire life overdosing on uncut escapism, willingly allowing fantasy to become my reality.”


About Ernest Cline

ERNEST CLINE is a novelist, screenwriter, father, and full-time geek. His first novel, Ready Player One, was a New York Times and USA Today bestseller, appeared on numerous “best of the year” lists, and is set to be adapted into a motion picture by Warner Bros. and director Steven Spielberg. His second novel, ARMADA, debuted at #4 on the NYT Bestseller list and is being made into a film by Universal Pictures. Ernie lives in Austin, Texas, with his family, a time-traveling DeLorean, and a large collection of classic video games.


Author: Cyn

noun. a bum OT, procrastinator. reader. eater. sleeper. music listen-er. movie go-er. Loves food too much.

4 Replies to “Review: Armada by Ernest Cline”

  1. Okay, I guess I can skip this and just try to get to Ready Player One…
    Jen @ YA Romantics

    1. Definitely just skip to Ready Player One! Way better character development.
      Thanks for stopping by!

  2. I just read this one as well and was SO disappointed, especially since Ready Player One is one of my favourites. Everyone hooking up before the end of the world was kind of weird :S

    1. Agreeeee! I was like what the heck characters!?! So random that everyone just got paired off to hook up :/ And I’m still annoyed about the ending 😛 haha,

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