I’m a little late to this party, I’m sure, but having loved Ready Player One, and recently seen the movie adaptation, I really wanted to read Armada.
Warning: Possible Spoilers Ahead!
Zack Lightman plays a hugely popular online game called Armada, where players pilot futuristic drones to defend Earth from invading aliens. Then one day at school, he looks out of the window and sees one of the alien UFOs in the sky above his home town. It turns out the game may not be just a game after all.
I went into this book with high expectations. The plot is very reminiscent of The Last Starfighter, which the book references on more than one occasion, along with a lot of other 80’s pop culture references that you expect with Ernest Cline (The dude owns a DeLorean for heavens sake. I am supremely jealous). Even the lead characters name, Lightman, screams 80s. This isn’t a bad thing, but I find I do worry that if Cline continues the trend in future novels then it could get repetetive. But that’s something to worry about later.
The first 80 odd pages are spent building up Zacks backstory. He’s one of the top Armada players in the world, and lives with his single mother, his dad having been killed in an accident when Zack was just a baby. After encountering the UFO, Zacks (quite rightly) questions his own sanity, but then realises that his dearly departed dads journal that seems to be the ramblings of a conspiracy theory nut might have been more than first meets the eye. Somehow though, depsite so much detail being put into fleshing out the main character of the book, I didn’t find him to be a very interesting person. Don’t get me wrong, I didn’t hate him, and he’s noot badly written as such, but I just didn’t feel much of a connection with him. He plays Armada, look just like his dad (something that is pointed out so much that it becomes a little annoying) who he seems to idolize, has anger management issues, ‘works’ in a computer gaming shop, and has a hot mum.
Don’t get me wrong, though the book starts off a little slow it’s still a good read, and very entertaining. But it’s predictable. I found I saw the twists in the tale coming a mile off. The romantic subplot is kind of forced, and feels very much like Cline tried to repeat the Parzival/Art3mis romance from Ready Player One, but it really doesn’t make much sense and seems shoe horned in for the sake of having an obiligatory love interest. The action sequences are great, sprawling, and well described. It entertains, and did make me want to hurry to read it, but ultimately I felt it lacked… something.
Don’t get me wrong, Armada is a good read, and I would recommend reading it, but if you expect it to live up to Ready Player Ones standards, you could be disapointed.