Date Published: July 14th 2015
Genres: Action & Adventure, Fiction, Science Fiction, Space Opera, Young Adult
Audiobook Length: 11 hours 58 minutes
Audiobook Narrator: Wil Wheaton
Description: 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.
If you’ve ever read a contemporary science fiction book and wondered why there is no mention of any other contemporary science fiction in the book, then Armada is the book for you. In Armada, Ernest Cline posits that for forty years, society has been enjoying science fiction in movies, tv, and books all for a purpose. To prepare us for the upcoming alien invasion. And video games are training modules. Zach Lightman has been playing Armada (the video game) for years, and is now ranked sixth. In the world.
I’m not going to apologize, but we are about to go full geek here on Chapter Break.
If you read Mr. Cline’s Ready Player One, then you already know. If not, get on that. Pronto. You have until August 2017 when the movie is released. Armada is pretty similar in writing style, humor, and pop culture references. One of my favorite quotes from the book is:
“Shit,” I heard Diehl shout over the comm, “I just lost my gorram shields because I’m already out of frakkin’ power!”
“Dude,” Cruz said. “You shouldn’t mix swears from different universes.”
And I’m glad I wasn’t the only one who thought this:
Now whenever I watched a Star Wars film, I found myself wondering how the Empire had the technology to make a long-distance holographic phone call between planets light-years apart, and yet no one had figured out how to make a remote-controlled TIE Fighter or X-Wing.
I was seriously trying not to laugh out loud at work while listening to the audio for Armada. I don’t review many audio books, but I really enjoyed Wil Wheaton’s work on the audio.
He gets two thumbs up for the different voices, inflections, and humor. I would totally listen to other books that Mr. Wheaton has read.
Ok, enough silliness. Let’s be serious. I really did enjoy this book. Was the plot predictable? Sure. Did I care. Not a bit. As for the characters, I felt like outside of Zach and his family, there wasn’t a lot of background information or character development. The first half of the book finds Zach trying to learn more about the life of his absent father (he passed away when Zach was a baby) and playing video games with his friends, which was a bit slow for me. The second half of the book (once Zach and the reader finds out about the actual existence of aliens) moved much more quickly, thankfully.
I think it is all of the pop culture references that I enjoyed the most. It’s been awhile since I watched The Last Starfighter, I didn’t really note that many comparisons between the book and movie. And Mr. Cline even calls out the movie in this quote:
In reality, videogames did not come to life and fictional spaceships did not buzz about your hometown. Implausible shit like that only happened in cheesy ’80s movies, like TRON or WarGames or The Last Starfighter.
Personally, I enjoyed the mash-up of Star Wars, Star Trek, Firefly, and Battlestar Galactica references.
Here’s hoping that, when it’s time for our first contact with aliens, we use Armada as a lesson on how best to approach the situation.
Oh, and if you were wondering, Zach is a total Gryffindor.