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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.

355 pages, Hardcover

First published July 14, 2015

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About the author

Ernest Cline

23 books26.6k followers
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.

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Profile Image for Kemper.
1,390 reviews6,976 followers
February 23, 2017
- The Last Starfighter
- Ender’s Game
-“Fleeing from the Cylon tyranny, the last Battlestar, Galactica, leads a ragtag, fugitive fleet on a lonely quest for a shining planet known as Earth.
- Proton packs
- Twiki from Buck Rogers
- “I’d buy that for a dollar!”
- Ms Pac-Man
- Mix tapes
- “Help me, Obi-Wan Kenobi. You’re my only hope.”
- Pitfall
- “Theorizing that one could time travel within his own lifetime, Dr. Sam Beckett stepped into the Quantum Leap accelerator - and vanished.”
- Tron
- “Where we’re going, we don’t need roads!”
- Defender
- Warp core breaches
- “Snakes. Why did it have to be snakes?”
- Voight-Kampff test
- Streets of Fire
- “Yippie-ki-yay, motherf...….”

Why did you stop me? What’s that you say? You can’t just string a bunch of nerdy ‘80s pop culture references together and call it a coherent piece of writing? Maybe not, but Ernest Cline is getting rich doing it so I thought I’d give it a try.

Ah, but seriously folks...

Zach Lightman is a high school kid whose only real talent is playing video games. His father was killed in an accident right after he was born, and thanks to an attic full of the old man’s stuff Zach is well versed in ‘80s movies, TV, and music. There’s also a notebook in which his dad theorized that all the pop culture since the '70s was done as part of a plan to prepare the world for a coming alien invasion, and video games were introduced to train the public on how they’d fight them. Zach learns that his father’s theory was right when he gets scooped up by the Earth Defense Alliance because his skills are needed to help fight off the space invaders.

Cline has lifted elements from stories like The Last Starfighter and Ender’s Game, and then used the notion that the EDA has been influencing Earth’s culture for decades to create a loop in which he can continually roll out nerdy references to the point where you’ll want to punch the next person who says anything about Star Wars within your hearing. Oh, and Futurama also did this plot in a much better and funnier way about 7 years earlier.

Borrowing story from other works isn’t the worst thing about this though. The part Cline lifted is used fairly often in entertainment as general wish fulfillment that any kid might be exceptional somehow. So this doesn’t come across as quite the act of plagiarism it sounds like from the premise of the book. That’s far from the biggest problem with Armada.

The important thing here is that Ernest Cline is a goddamn hack.

I thought his first book Ready Player One was lightweight mildly entertaining sci-fi that mainly coasted by due to its appeal as Gen-X nostalgia porn, but Cline is like that guy at work who made one decent joke that got a short giggle out of you once in the break room and after that repeats a variation of it every time you bump into him in the hall. With this second book he’s shown that he has no other moves than playing the pop culture card because Armada is nothing but the same gag repeated ad nauseam.

My irritation starts with Zach Lightman because just as in RP1 we once again have a teenage hero who is obsessed with the ‘80s despite not living in them. Yeah, Cline makes up some reasons as to why a kid in the future or in the present would get into this, but in reality this is just an excuse for a middle-aged man to put his own youth culture into the mouths of younger characters in an attempt to convince us all that the ‘80s were totally awesome and completely relevant today, dude!

It also gives him the opportunity to unleash his never ending stream of nerdy references in lieu of actually writing a book. The main character can’t describe anything, anyone, or any emotional state without using pop culture as shorthand. Almost everything that happens to him has to be expressed by comparing it to a movie, TV show, or video game. He literally can’t describe his own mother without evoking Sarah Connor and Ellen Ripley to give you an idea of her toughness even though she’s a nurse, not a robot fighting survivalist or alien exterminator.

Some might try to say that this is Cline deliberately writing a hero with extremely nerdy obsessions to explore the nature of geek fandom, but that excuse doesn’t fly because almost every single character in this book does the same thing. Even the hard-core military guy in charge of the EDA makes a Top Gun reference when talking to Zach. After all, this is a book written by a guy who drives a goddamn DeLorean so I’m not buying the theory that Cline is just commenting on people who are rabid fans of the '80s when he’s also foaming at the mouth.

It’s in just about every conversation, and that highlights another problem with Cline’s dependence on nostalgia. He is so enamored with nerd culture that he thinks that name checking some of its most famous elements is entertaining in and of itself, and he acts like every half-assed joke or quote he tosses out is inherently great just because we’ll recognize where it came from.

It’s weirdly out of touch that he writes this like acknowledging a reference puts someone in an exclusive club that only a few like minded souls belong to. When Zach meets the obligatory geek dream girl he falls for after joining the EDA she’s drinking from a flask painted like R2-D2, and that’s supposed to be a sign that they have things in common. As if finding a Star Wars fan in a crowd of some of the best gamers on Earth would be hard to do.

I’d also like to point out to Cline that there is a new Star Wars movie coming out in December, and its trailers on You Tube already have several million views. The third Star Trek after the franchise reboot is in production. Hell, even Adam Sandler made an ‘80s video game movie although it sounds like he couldn’t be bothered to put even this low of an amount of effort into it. So this idea that trotting out “May the Force be with you.” is going to be some kind of secret handshake to identify your fellow nerdlingers is pretty much shot to hell in the year 2015.

That’s part of the problem with Cline thinking that it’s just enough to reference this stuff. Imagine if we show up to that Star Wars flick, and Harrison Ford is in just one scene and says, “Hi, I’m Han Solo. Remember that time I got frozen in carbonite? Boy, did that suck. See ya later.” There would be riots in the streets if JJ Abrams allowed that to happen because it’s not enough to just mention Han Solo, it only works if Han Solo does something cool as part of the plot.*

*(Or at least that’s the way I feel, but for some reason it seems like there are a helluva lot of fans of all kinds out there who will pee themselves at the slightest hint of something they care about. “SQUEEEE!! It makes me SOOOOOO HAPPY just to see a reference to it! Because I love it SOOOOO MUCH! I don’t care if he/she/it just sat in a corner sending text messages for the entire scene instead of doing any of the of things that I originally liked about them to begin with. It was just SOOOOOOO AWESOME to see him/her/it again!!!!”

I don’t get that, but it’s not my problem. I’m here to tell you what’s wrong with Cline, not the world.)

Essentially Cline is just trying to use things we liked from other works to evoke the same emotions we got from them without bothering to create his own, and he’s shoving as many things in there as possible to give readers a sweet nostalgic glow to paper over that shortcoming.

For example, he references Iron Eagle which is a '80s movie about a teenager stealing an Air Force jet and blowing up the Middle East to save his dad. It’s not enough for Cline to cite that or have Zach’s online alias be Iron Beagle. During one scene he has Zach zapping aliens as he listens to Queen’s One Vision from his dad’s old mix tape, but that’s actually done in the movie. Rather than try to build his own moment (Or maybe having a kid from 2015 listen to some music from this century.) Cline points at the film and says, “See, it’s just like that! That’s what I’m trying to tell you!”

On the other hand, he kinda has to do this because he’s it’s not like he can rely on his writing ability.

I’ve read Stan Lee dialogue in comics from the ‘60s that was less on the nose and had more sub-text. The characters are all paper thin stereotypes. When Cline has to convey that someone is emotionally upset, and he tries to do more than just remind us of a famous movie scene that demonstrates this he repeatedly describes how their faces contort. For example: “His face contorted in anguish.” or “His face contorted in pain.” or “His face contorted in a mask of pain.” There are multiple variations on that phrase used about every other page for a while in the third act. Maybe if Cline checked a thesaurus instead of IMDB once in a while he could find a new verb.

The odd thing is that I’m not even that angry at Cline. He’s a shit writer who found a hook that made him insanely popular. It’s not the first time it’s happened, and it won’t be the last. Usually I wouldn’t even read it, and I’d let someone else put his books on the same shelf as Dan Brown and Stephenie Meyer. (Damn, but I am just chumming the waters with troll bait on this one, aren’t I?)

But Ready Player One irked me because its set up was a young guy from the future who was essentially trying to live in my past. Armada outright offends me because Cline takes it even further to the point where the book is nothing but references with the barest bones of any kind of original plot to it. He’s unable to craft a real story that might make legitimate use of his ‘80s obsession so he throws a pot of pop culture spaghetti against the wall to see what sticks. It’s a mess, and it’s making me start to hate many of the things I enjoyed during my adolescence after seeing how annoying it is to be subjected to non-stop unfiltered nerd nostalgia.

This is also part of a worrisome trend of shitty movies based on toys and games (Transformers, GI Joe, Battleship) as well as outright reboots (Robocop, Total Recall.), and old TV shows being brought back. (X-Files, Twin Peaks & Full House. That's right, we've hit a point as a culture where we apparently crave the familiar so much that bringing Full House back sounds like a good idea to somebody.) If we keep stuffing the same old stuff back in our mouths again and again, we’re eventually going to choke on it.

To use a Cline tactic of borrowing something from pop culture for my own purposes I’ll modify a quote from True Detective: “My strong suspicion is that we get the sci-fi we deserve.”

I’m really starting to worry that’s true. So let’s try to change it. How about if you’re craving the concept of this book you go watch that Futurama episode Space Invaders instead? Trust me, it’s a lot better.
Profile Image for Ariel.
301 reviews64.1k followers
September 7, 2015

Believe me when I say I was ready to love this book. Ready Player One was so great! And this was about video games and alien invasions! I jumped in to Armada ready to be caught by an awesome net..

.. and instead fell flat on my face. On concrete. And then a piano fell on me.

The equation as it stands:

+ Boring characters (I didn’t care about anyone! I didn’t feel we spent enough time with a single character for me to care about their fate and so when something happened to someone I just shrugged and kept reading)
+ an annoying main character (I hated him! i wasn’t rooting for him even a little bit! I would have liked literally any other character to be our hero/heroine)
+ deus ex machina ALL OVER THE PLACE (the plot kept running into situations that made Ernest Cline have to create silly and ridiculous ways out.. near the end I was just rolling my eyes “well of COURSE there was a simple 1-minute hack to solve that giant problem! -.-)
+ anti-climaxes left right and centre (just when you think something exciting is going to happen it’s like a deflating balloon and you’re left thinking “wait, was I supposed to think that was awesome?”)
+ an over saturation of pop culture references (listen, I get it. Ernest Cline loves showing off his knowledge of 80’s pop culture. Whereas in Ready Player One it felt a bit heavy, right here it basically sunk the ship. There were references being made where they didn’t add to the plot, where they didn’t fit into normal conversation or thought, and where they expected to explain something important that I therefore didn’t understand because I don’t know all of these obscure references!)
+ wasted potential (the big reveal at the end was actually interesting but I really felt it was a case of “too little too late”)
+ bad editing (I hate to be a stickler for grammar, but sometimes it crosses a line - throughout reading this i kept shaking my head and just thinking “did the editor give up? why is it so choppy?”)

I actually had a blast reading this .. because I read it aloud with my boyfriend. (Read his review here!) Every night we’d get together and read a chapter or two and it became a cringe fest that we laughed through together. If, however, I hadn’t been reading it with him I don’t even know if I would have finished it.

I’ve not given up on Ernest Cline - Ready Player One is a super fantastic and fun novel, and I feel like Ernest Cline is writing interesting sci-fi for our contemporary times, I just hope that whatever he does next is better plotted and not rushed <3
Profile Image for Emily May.
1,993 reviews298k followers
July 17, 2015
I'd say I'm pretty nerdy.

I guess there's no set definition, but I do have a comic book collection that takes up its own closet. I have played WoW obsessively in the past and I enjoy going to sci-fi conventions

I was a Pokemon master for the first five generations and only haven't played the sixth because I keep scolding myself with "you're too old!" every time I see it in the stores. This is my favourite t-shirt:

This is my favourite cup:

And, well, I've heard that Cline basically writes novels aimed straight at the heart of us nerds. But for some reason Armada didn't work for me. Perhaps I am not really as much of a nerd as I think I am, or perhaps there is a specific breed of nerd that will enjoy Cline's books. Maybe the kind who plays a lot of alien video games and arcade games, which is basically what this book is about.

It is quite funny in the beginning, but it lost me somewhere after we got lists of video game facts and a video game timeline. I like to play video games too - Final Fantasy, Diablo, etc. - but playing them is pretty much all I do. I don't join any roleplay forums or spend my time caring about weird video game conspiracies/legends/horror stories like this:

“Polybius was an urban legend that had been circulating on the Internet for decades. It was the title of a strange videogame that only appeared in one Portland arcade during the summer of 1981. According to the story, the game drove several kids who played it insane; then the machine mysteriously vanished, never to be seen again.”

I've heard that Ready Player One is better but I find myself not wanting to read it quite so much anymore. I've been waiting to step into Cline's world for so long and Armada was really just boring and anticlimactic. Should I still read his debut?
Profile Image for Sam Quixote.
4,544 reviews12.9k followers
August 24, 2015
Teenager Zack Lightman is the 6th best Armada player in the world, a sci-fi shoot ‘em up where you pilot a ship blasting away alien invaders. And then he discovers the game was really designed to find the best pilots in the world and he’s been drafted in a real-life war against aliens!

Computer games used to find skilled players - kids, usually - to fight aliens in an intergalactic war? Yeah, it’s been done already in The Last Starfighter and Ender’s Game. In fact the derivative nature of Ernest Cline’s Armada is emblematic of the novel as a whole which isn’t so much a story as it is a collection of quotes and references from other, actually original works of pop culture sprinkled liberally atop an adolescent wish-fulfilment fantasy.

The story is told in Zack’s first person. By far the most irritating aspect of the novel is the way Cline writes Zack’s internal monologue – note that Zack is a mega-fan of pop culture. Every simile – and I mean. Every. Single. One. – is a reference to something. A movie, book, game, whatever.

For example: “I’d felt like a young Clark Kent, preparing to finally learn the truth about his origins from the holographic ghost of his own long-dead father.”


“What if they’re using videogames to train us to fight without us even knowing it? Like Mr Miyagi in The Karate Kid, when he made Daniel-san paint his house, sand his deck, and wax all of his cars - he was training him and he didn’t even realize it! Wax on, wax off - but on a global scale!”

This isn’t just lazy, sloppy writing but it’s detrimental to how the book will read to some people. Not only do we not know what Zack is supposed to be feeling because he’s not telling us, he’s describing how another character in a similar situation would feel but only describing the situation. But if you’re unfamiliar with the reference, you won’t know what Zack/the reader is supposed to be feeling. Or you’ll have to jump on Google to find out yourself which isn’t exactly what anyone sitting down with a book is hoping to end up doing!

The simile references aren’t just every now and then, they’re on nearly every page which becomes enormously tiresome. Zack cannot describe anything, or have a single conversation, without name-dropping at least one pop culture reference. And while I got most of the references, I didn’t enjoy them so much as I grew to hate Cline’s shockingly inept storytelling style.

The story itself isn’t much better. Yes it’s ripping off The Last Starfighter and Ender’s Game but beyond that there isn’t much else to the book. The “gamers save the world” storyline is extremely self-indulgent and tedious, while the pervasive worship of nostalgia is simply boring.

But at least Zack has a semblance of character as opposed to no-one else in the book. His glaringly obvious love interest, Lex, isn’t so much a character as an extension of Cline’s fantasy. She’s drop-dead gorgeous and as steeped in pop culture as Zack so the two get to make repeated obnoxious references to one another in the least funny, most annoying meet cute ever. Not only that but she is hot hot hot for nerds, especially gamers who’re super-good at Armada. Lex might be Cline’s most pitiful moment in the whole novel.

Zack’s friends, Nerdle-dee and Nerdle-dum (I don’t recall their names but that’ll do), are just funnels for every fanboy message board, arguing about what superhero could beat some other superhero or what movie’s better than another. Describing these “characters” as one-dimensional is generous.

When he’s not making references, Cline’s describing the supposedly-exciting battle scenes in space between Earth’s forces and the aliens’. Except describing a space battle is not nearly as exciting as seeing one in a film, TV show or game and there are dozens of pages devoted solely to this. My eyes glazed over every time Cline was describing some super-awesome dogfight Zack was in.

But it isn’t just Cline’s inability to bring any real drama to the proceedings – just how exciting is it to see two drones fight one another? Because, for most of the fights, the people operating the machines are safely tucked far away from the action while two unmanned drones shoot at one another. Two lifeless robots shooting lasers at one another is as exciting to read as it sounds.

Things happen too quickly – one minute Zack’s a high school student making Lord of the Rings references with his Say Anything-obsessed mother in their living room, the next he’s in space preparing to fight a war that’ll save humanity. There’s no real build-up to the war against the aliens, no real sense of fear that this is “mankind’s final hour”. Everything’s too rushed to have any impact on the reader.

As unconvincing as the characters are, once these teens get drafted and are given titles like “Captain” and “Lieutenant”, it took all I could muster not to say “oh fuck YOU!” every time we saw some dweeb suddenly being saluted by self-appointed “Generals” and “Admirals”. It’s like watching little kids play dress-up or seeing a Scientology ceremony except you know they’re just idiots while Cline is asking us to take these teenage “Captains” seriously like everyone else in his story is for some stupid reason. It’s too much – I could suspend my disbelief for an alien invasion but not for some dickhead gamers being called actual military ranks and treated like actual ranking officers. There’s not enough vomit in the world to express how I felt during those scenes.

And really – we’re meant to believe that teenage gamers was the best strategy the brilliant minds of the world could come up with to fight the aliens? Socially dysfunctional, emotionally-damaged, undisciplined crybabies who’ve never know responsibility beyond a part-time job or an essay deadline are suddenly entrusted with billions of dollars’ worth of equipment to SAVE THE WORLD?! But then again we’re dealing with Ernest Cline’s fantasy specific to gamers so it makes (non)sense.

Armada is pure fan service to gamers. It pats them on the head, confirming their ridiculous beliefs that they are the most amazing people in the world and that nobody understands the true importance of gaming. The book is also for people who like seeing things they’re familiar with who’ll go “oh I remember that therefore this is great!” ie. mindless fanboys who only react to brands rather than substance and who enjoy feeling part of an asinine club because they “get” certain references others don’t.

The real failing of Armada is that for all Cline’s knowledge of pop culture, he’s unable to contribute anything original to it with his book. That’s the point isn’t it – to create something new and start a whole new set of references rather than simply quote endlessly from others ad nauseam? But Cline opts for the latter and produces a book of completely insubstantial drivel.

Armada is tedious sci-fluff that renders itself near-unreadable due to an over-reliance on cultural reference shorthand to communicate key moments of its feeble story and the savvy-ness of the reader to pick up on them. When picking what to read, shoot for something higher, something original, challenging, ambitious and fresh - in other words, anything but Armada!
Profile Image for Shelby *trains flying monkeys*.
1,606 reviews5,993 followers
August 16, 2015
I like to think I'm sorta with it as an adult.

I read books that my teenagers like. I run from adult responsibilities. I love some pop culture stuff. I make fart jokes with my tweenish age son.
I'm totally on board with the cool stuff.

Until I met this book.
I absolutely and totally hate it. I know I should make myself finish it since I received a copy as an arc. I'm not doing it. You can't make me.

I loved Ready Player One so much that it is one of my favorites that I've read this year. This sucker is going on top of my most hated for the year.

You have this: My father had drawn circles around the entries for Iron Eagle, Ender's Game, and The Last Starfighter, then he'd added the lines connecting them all to each other-and now for the first time I finally understood why. All three stories were about a kid who trained for real-life combat by playing a videogame simulation of it.

And that boys and girls is the gist of this book.

Now that really does not sound like the worst book ever. But then you take and put in a pop culture reference in almost every frigging paragraph and it wears on your every loving last nerve in a frucking hurry.
Don't believe me? This is from the blurb-that I stupidly waited to read after I started the book.
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 in infused with the pop-culture savvy that has helped make Ready Player One a phenomenon.


Not only do we have continuous pop culture forced down our throat at ever possible moment. You also must throw in every cliche known to young adult books on top of that. I did not finish this book but so far into it I saw the whole bullying storyline, single mom/dead dad, lonely boy who is going to be the hero, and insta-loving. As a matter of fact the insta-loving is when I said to hell with this book. I actually gritted my teeth it was so bad.

Then, as if that weren't lame enough, I added, "I'm not old enough to drink, anyway."
She rolled her eyes at me. "They're about to tell us that the world is ending, you realize?" she said. "You don't want to be stone-cold sober for that shit, do you?"
"You make a compelling argument," I said, taking the flask from her.
As I raised it to my lips, she began to chant, "Breakin'-the-law-breakin'-the-law."

I did get some stuff done while reading this book though. I cleaned my entire house, I even cleaned drama kitties litter box. It was way more fun than this book. And my ass is lazy.

Book source: Blogging for books in exchange for review.

Profile Image for Ashley.
2,776 reviews1,777 followers
August 3, 2015
8/02/15: Okay, let’s get this out of the way: If you’re looking to recreate the singular reading experience you had with Ready Player One, to recapture that same magical feeling of wonder and awesomeness, you’re going to be disappointed with this book. Just, straight up.

Armada is not RPO. They have similarities, but there also a lot of differences, and those differences are going to cause a lot of people not to like this one very much. Them’s just the facts. RPO, as far as I’m concerned, is one of those once-in-a-lifetime reading experiences that even its author will have trouble topping. It’s this magical hybrid of wonder and pessimism, childhood and adulthood, games and real life, and it mixes the format of the quest story (which is about as general of an enjoyable human story archetype you can get) with nerd culture and nostalgia in a way that appeals to vast swathes of people. And even if you didn’t get 100% of what was going on, most likely there’s something in that book for you to love.

Not so with Armada. Armada is niche, and not just because you really have to love sci-fi and/or video games to like it. In a lot of ways, Ready Player One sort of transcended Ernest Cline’s writing style. You could love that style or just think it’s okay and still have a really fun time reading that book. The story just takes over. With Armada, though, if you don’t like Cline’s style, you’re probably not going to like the book. He uses pop culture references as emotional shorthand, his characters here are a bit on the flimsy side, and his writing is focused more on the action side of the story than the emotion. He also errs more on the side of passionate than clever. I’m totally okay with all of that, for the record.

Well, okay, Ashley, what about the actual book? Short answer is that it’s a meta-homage to science fiction and video games, and I had a really fun time reading it.

It’s about a kid named Zack whose status as an elite gamer earns him a position in the real-life fight against aliens, and if that sounds like The Last Starfighter or Ender’s Game, that’s very much on purpose. There are really two twists that Cline brings to the story, though. (Spoilers?) 1: The universe of Armada is really our universe, meaning all of our pop culture is their pop culture. Zack and his friends and family have all seen The Last Starfighter. In fact, that’s the entire point of the book. Serious premise SPOILERS here, you’ve been warned: Which brings me to the second thing Cline does a little differently, and which apparently was the actual inspiration behind writing the book. 2: He’d never seen a sci-fi film or book that used drones as weapons, which he says now kind of blows his mind. Why wouldn’t you use drones to fight your battles as an invading enemy? Why risk your actual bodies when you could . . . not?

Probably my two favorite things about this book were the ways that Zack (and thus Cline) kept pointing out all the sci-fi tropes he could, and explaining why they made no sense, and then actually making that an important part of the plot. I also really loved the relationship between Zack and his parents (his dad having died when he was a baby).

But with that said, there was one thing that didn’t sit quite right with me about this. For one, the resolution to the mystery of his father’s death. The book in general was a bit more brutal than I was expecting, but I could deal with most of it, because most of it made sense for the story.

All in all, Cline is still one of my favorite authors. Even if he never again writes something that I love so unreservedly as I love Ready Player One, he still writes fun, nerdy stories like no one else in the business right now. I will read anything he sees fit to write.

7/14/15: Honestly, I don't think I've finished a book on its release day since the last Harry Potter book. It was totally worth it. Armada isn't better than Ready Player One, but I didn't expect it to be. Lots of thoughts in eventual full review.

Pre-release: It has a cover and a blurb and a release date. IT HAS A COVER AND A BLURB AND A RELEASE DATE.

Profile Image for Alejandro.
1,142 reviews3,565 followers
July 30, 2015
I expected something more original...


I was really excited to read Armada since I read some months ago Ready Player One and I enjoyed A LOT that other book.

So, reading the next novel by Ernest Cline was a obvious decision.

I was aware of the basic premise, and I really hoped to read something fresh and original with the same sense of witty and humor found on Ready Player One, but while I can’t deny that Armada contains witty and humor, I didn’t find it fresh or original.

Any big reason? ...

...some book that you may heard about (not matter if you have read it or not)...

...Ender’s Game.

Cline didn’t do any attempt (that it could be pointless and illogical) to hide the connection to the mentioned novel, in fact in the “reality” of the book, Ender’s Game exists as the same known sci-fi novel than in “our” reality.

But, one thing is aknowledge the novel and other is trying to make a “readers’ friendly” version of that novel. Ender’s Game is a complex book, you love it or hate it, very rarely you are in the middle about it (where to be fair, I think that I am in the middle). There are many reasons why readers hate the book, some illogical like the personal opinions of the author about polemic topics (if I’d worry about personal thinking about authors, actors, musicians, etc… Very likely I wouldn’t be able to enjoy a lot of good books, movies, tv series and music albums). I prefer a shitty person but good writer than a good person but shitty writer. (Yes, I got that from the film adaptation of The Fault in Our Stars).

Anyway, there are other issues on the actual book like the age of the main character in contrast with his too mature attitude or violent actions. But, at least it was original.

Honestly, I don’t think the same about Armada.

And if some of you (my fellow geeks) are thinking about the movie The Last Starfighter, don’t worry, Cline mentions that film too...

...of course he has to mention it!!! He’s shamelessly merging Ender’s Game (book) with The Last Starfighter (movie) as being any able to avoid mention those. But, being open to mention the awareness of those projects and excusing them as “being part of a bigger plan” to explain why Armada is so much like those previous stories, it isn’t a satisfactory scenario to justify the lack of originality in this novel.

On the narrative, there is even a large and meticulous list of all works about alien invasions, military sci-fi and books/movies about using civilians (usually teenagers) in video game simulations to train them for real military duties. Where in that, I was amazed that (taking in account how extensive the list is) it wasn’t mentioned the film “Toys” (1992) with Robin Williams. Yes, the movie is pretty lame, but hey! Its general story makes a bullseye on about what’s about the main topic on the novel as to be picky about it and not mentioning it. (The sci-fi list covers until 1999, so there is no reason why to skip that movie since it fits in that “big conspiration theory” like a glove).

Another curious thing is that Zack Lightman, the main character, has a history of previous violence and even a bully is afraid of him. The bullies are afraid of the geeks?! What kind of insane world is that one?! Hehehe.

I didn’t see the point of portraiting Zack Lightman with a past of violence. I know many gamers whom they don’t kill a fly in real world and they are insane killers in video games. It was like taking Ender Wiggin but instead of recruiting him as a small child and waiting until he is eighteen years old. While I understand the disliking of some readers of a child doing the kind of violence as Ender, at least that’s something to talk about, something polemic, any controversy is good for the general impact of a story... but a 18-years old man with a violent past? Mmh... Nope, no controversy there, sorry.

I won’t spoil the ending, don’t worry, I will only say that even the way as “the twist” in the story is managed, it isn’t that original, fresh or innovative. Basically it’s a kinda loose reverse way of The New Twilight Zone episode “A Small Talent for War” (that it was considered one of the best episodes of the revival TV series. It impacted me so much when I watched it, back then in 1986, that I still remember the basic storyline of the TV episode).

Hey! If you don’t want geeks (like me) to point out that they read/hear/watch a similar story before, then don’t do “geek stories”, since we (geeks) love to show off our geekness’ sapienza, totally worthless in the day-to-day real life, but fun to point out when something isn’t as original as others may think.

Wait a minute! 1986? The episode of The New Twilight Zone was aired in 1986??!

Ender's Game was published in 1986!!!

Dang! Forget 1985! This novel should be titled "1986 Strikes Back!"


You may think that a geek (like me) will be in paradise in a novel like Armada where in almost every single paragraph, there are like between 2 and 6 pop culture geek references.

If so...

You thought...


I don’t know, maybe I am not as geek as I think… who am I kidding? I am a dang geek! But, honestly, even I found irritating/excesive/unnecesary (pick your poison) to include such overwhelming ludicrous HUGE chunk of popular culture geek references in every single dang paragraph in the whole novel.

Did I understand the geek references?

Sure! I am a geek, duh!

However, unless I am in the middle of a “deep” discussion with fellow geek friends, I don’t think or speak out loud so many pop culture geek references in day-to-day situations. Believe it or not, if we (geeks) opted of not wearing a geek-related t-shirt, we (geeks) can mingle in the middle of non-geek masses and you (non-geek) won’t be able to indentify us...


Mmh... Of course, it helps too if we (geeks) opted to avoid laughing out loud in machiavellian style! In that way our camouflage is impeccable... Bwa...mmh...right, right...

But really, I am a geek and I don’t think or speak like Zack Lightman, and even I can’t believe that the most obsessive real life geek may think or speak as Zack Lightman does. Yes, I know, it’s a book and usually that kind of characters are archetypes intentionally exaggerated to construct epitome-like characters and in that way, being able to differentiate between different characters in a story and/or clearly pointing out the purpose of the character in the narrative. However, while in Ready Player One I felt that pop culture references were used in a proper way, with the right amount of it, here, in Armada, the author just lost control of it and the popular culture geek references just ran free crushing any chance of enjoying the reading experience.

In a smaller note, but relevant, I think that the novel takes a bit too much to engage, since after two compelling initial chapters, you get lost in over-detailing descriptions of video game sessions before reaching the point where the story begins to kick, provoking a “bump” in the first part of the book.

At the end, I felt not fair giving it at least a 3-stars rating, which it puts the novel in the safe positive side of the rating bar, but definitely I expected a lot more of this book, taking in account, Cline’s great job in Ready Player One. I don’t regret having read it, but I was looking for something more original and enjoyable and sadly it wasn’t the case.

Profile Image for Carmen.
2,066 reviews1,905 followers
January 15, 2018
I tried to keep my cool. I tried to remain skeptical. I reminded myself that I was a man of science, even if I did usually get a C in it.

I looked at it again. I still couldn't tell what it was, but I knew what it wasn't - it wasn't a meteor. Or a weather balloon, or swamp gas, or ball lightning. No, the unidentified flying object I was staring at with my own two eyes was most definitely NOT OF THIS EARTH.

My first thought was: Holy fucking shit.

How much jerking-off to '80s nostalgia can one man do? Ernest Cline is testing my limits as he's written not one but TWO full-length novels crammed to the gills with '80s references.

Listen, I read Ready Player One and liked it. A lot of people did. Unfortunately, Cline has interpreted us liking that book as a green-light to write more books that center around the worship of everything '80s.

Seems as if Cline is a one-trick pony.

Stop me if you've heard this one. Zack Lightman is good at basically nothing except playing video games. Specifically one video game that deals with fighting off an alien invasion. One day, Men in Black come to his school and recruit him to fight aliens for real - the video game was actually a recruiting tool for the upcoming war against aliens from Europa. Sound familiar?


ANYWAY, I would be absolutely fine with this tired-ass plot if Cline bothered to add anything new or interesting to it. But he doesn't.

Worse than that, Zack and all the other characters in this book do not emote. Instead of having feelings, they simply compare themselves to fictional '80s characters. For instance, when Zack sees a space shuttle land near his school - one that is ripped right from the video game he plays incessantly - he doesn't talk about how he feels. Instead, he

Okay, then you might be trapped inside a lucid dream, like Tom Cruise in Vanilla Sky. Or maybe your reality is really just an incredibly convincing computer simulation, like in The Matrix. Or maybe you just died in a car accident, and this is all just an elaborate fantasy playing out in your brain during the last few seconds of your life - like in that one old Twilight Zone episode.

The characters do not have feelings that belong to themselves, only to other pop-culture fictional characters.

What about when he sees the advanced army base full of anti-alien craft? How does he feel?

In that moment, I felt like Luke Skywalker surveying a hangar full of A-, Y-, and X-Wing Fighters just before the Battle of Yavin. Or Captain Apollo, climbing into the cockpit of his Viper on the Galactica's flight deck. Ender Wiggin arriving at Battle School. Or Alex Rogan, clutching his Star League uniform, staring wide-eyed at a hangar full of Gunstars.

But this wasn't a fantasy. I wasn't Buck Rogers or Flash Gordon or Ender Wiggin or anyone else. This was real life. My life.

And Cline never puts just ONE '80s reference into an explanation when he can fit in three. It's highly annoying. Also, he is going to spoil innumerable movies and tv shows for you. You have been warned. Read at your own risk.

Let's look at a scene where a school bully has scratched Zack's car.

One of the few perks of driving an ancient, rusted-out shit wagon was that it took real effort to make it look any less aesthetically pleasing than it already was.

This realization allowed me to calm myself enough to heed the whispered advice of Master Yoda now on repeat in my head: Let go of your anger.

I often tried to calm myself with Yoda's voice (which sounded nothing like Fozzie Bear, damn you) during moments of distress. Obi-Wan or Qui-Gon or Mace Windu sometimes had calming movie-quote wisdom to share to.

That was only on good days, of course. On the bad ones, I found myself drawing on equally compelling advice from Lords Vader or Palpatine.

Please brace yourself for about 5 to 20 pop-culture '80s references on each and every page.

Who really cares enough about the 1980s to read and beat-off to Ready Player One AND then is immediately hungry for more non-stop 1980s porn?

Really, honestly, I am asking. Who is the audience for this book?

I know the '80s. I like the '80s. I'm not a real gamer, so most of Cline's video game worship goes right over my head, but I get 95% of his movie references in here and most of his musical ones, too.

But what exactly is the point? There's no real plot, and what little plot there is is SO cliched and SO predictable that it's almost not worth reading. I know people like nostalgia, but WHO is reading this?

Do teenagers nowadays love, worship and know 1980s culture? NO. At most they have a bit of passing interest in it.

Most adults I know, even if they were in their kid or teen years during the '80s, have a limited tolerance for '80s reminiscing if they even care to reminisce at all.

I'm highly worried about Cline. Is he stuck in the '80s? I would agree that the 1980s was a heyday for good movie making. However, - and I know this might be a huge shock to Cline - but good movies and tv shows are being made TODAY. *gasp* Yes, I know, it's true. Perhaps he should venture out to an actual theater or turn on his tv to HBO or Showtime instead of re-watching Back to the Future for the fiftieth time. The author picture of him is him posing with his DeLorean. Now, sweet. I love DeLoreans. Obviously. I loved the BTTF trilogy, SO MUCH. I have parts of it memorized.

However, I do NOT wish the '80s would come back, nor do I live in the past. I enjoy consuming modern pop culture and do not believe everything created after 1989 is trash. I'm always weirded out by people who are obsessed with the past and determined to live in it. I'd rather have a new movie with new ideas than a remake of TOTALL RECALL or TRON or yet another TERMINATOR movie. I do not know if Cline has kids, but perhaps if he does they can introduce their dad to some new and cool stuff. He can show them Die Hard and Predator and they can show him something that was made after 2005. It will blow his mind.

We also have some HIGHLY annoying "plot points" in the book which I will cover now.

1.) Absolute dream girl. Zack, on the first day - no, first HOUR - of training meets a black-clad, tattooed, older (he's 18, she's 22) woman who thinks he's cute and actually lets him sit by her instead of telling him to fuck off. She instantly gets all of his '80s jokes and references and ALSO is apparently obsessed with the '80s, so... they should get married immediately or something. I'm not even saying insta-love, I'm saying 'mythical dream girl that automatically likes you and appears immediately on your first day. You will have to do nothing to impress her, everything that comes out of your mouth is gold.'

This annoyed me to no end. She has no personality - much like Zack - and just exists to be his badass perfect girlfriend, a relationship that happens instantly, with none of that pesky getting-to-know-you, dating, can-I-trust-you, falling-in-love stuff that one normally has to go through in order to have a relationship.

2.) There's one gay couple in the novel and they Yeah. It's 2015 and we're still dealing with this shit.

3.) This is what annoyed me the most:

I nodded, still trying to rein in my conflicting emotions. Everything I'd ever been told or taught about the state of the world had been a lie. I 'd grown up believing that despite our aspirations, humans were still just a bunch of bipedal apes, divided into arbitrary tribes that were constantly at war over their ruined planet's dwindling natural resources. I'd always assumed that our future would end up looking more like Mad Max than Star Trek. But now I was forced to see our rampant fossil fuel consumption - and our seeming disregard for its effect on our already-changing climate - in an entirely new light. We hadn't used up all our of oil and ravaged our planet in a mindless pursuit of consumerism, but in preparation for a dark day most of us hadn't even known was coming.

Even humanity's lack of concern for its rampant overpopulation problem now made a terrible kind of sense. What difference did it make if our planet was capable of supporting all seven billion of us in the long term when a far greater threat to our numbers was waiting in the wings? And despite the overwhelming odds, humanity had done what was necessary to ensure its own survival. It filled me with a strange new sense of pride in my own species. We weren't a primitive bunch of monkeys teetering on the brink of self-destruction after all - this appeared to be an altogether different kind of destruction we were teetering on the brink of.

Fuck you.

Seriously, this made me angrier and more annoyed than anything else in the entire book. I was livid.

40 pages later, this reiterates when

"You're looking at the real reason for the recent global financial crisis - all of human civilization's technology, industry, and natural resources have been leveraged to the hilt in our effort to ensure that we have the firepower necessary to repel the invaders' superior numbers and advanced weaponry. And now, at long last, our forces are ready for deployment."

Fuck you, fuck you! I was getting very upset.

4.) This book is a lot like watching someone else play a video game.

What are you saying?

I'm saying the book is fucking boring, is what I'm saying. The fights and combat is video game fighting and combat. And you are certainly not in control. All the battle scenes and fighting is boring as hell.

Also, is Cline ever going to craft a MC who is NOT a Gary-Stu teenaged boy? How long can this go on? I feel like he's got a bit of Salinger in him. Branch out! Don't be scared.

Tl;dr - This is just another rehash of Cline's basic Ready Player One plot.

'80s worship, knowledge, and pop culture is life! But EVEN MORE SO than in RP1! Playing video games non-stop as a teen is actually a very valuable use of your time that will pay off big time! BUT EVEN MORE SO than in RP1! Our hero is a Gary Stu! BUT EVEN MORE SO than in RP1!

Do you think that you need even MORE masturbatory material about how FUCKING AMAZING the 1980s were!?!!? I mean, no other decade even compares to the 1980s! Do you just watch 1980s specials on VH1 for hours and hours on end? Only listen to 1980s music? Only play video games on (original) Nintendo and Atari? Only watch movies that were made in this awesome decade!?!? Why bother living in the present?

If so, Armada is the book for you! You can read it and laugh at all the '80s jokes. You can lovingly remember all your favorite '80s games, movies, tv shows, and video games! I mean, sure the book was published in 2015, but we can forgive it for that, certainly?!!?

However, if you seek new material in your books: fresh plots, actual character development, and things that are relevant in this decade, perhaps you would like to read something else. I'm still trying to figure out who Cline's audience is. One shot of '80s nostalgia was fun. Two shots is making me sick to my stomach. This fell very flat to me.
504 reviews140 followers
August 5, 2016
This was disappointing, especially compared to Ready Player One. I'm definitely not the target audience for this, but...still. It's kinda fun, but also utterly predictable.

(Also, to all the people that have commented on this review and acted annoyed at me that it's more The Last Starfighter than Ender's Game: Haven't seen The Last Starfighter. Don't care to. No need to get after me about it.)


So basically...Ender's Game?

Sure, why not? This'll probably be better than Ender's Game anyway.
Profile Image for Mohammed Arabey.
709 reviews5,735 followers
July 30, 2017
So, July, 14 2015 couldn't be any more accurate release date for "ARMADA"

I mean,
March, 24 2015
The X-Files
'Worldwide Popular 90s TV Series Started 1993' returns in new 6 episodes next year, after 13 years since it ended.

April, 20 2015
Independence Day: Resurgence
, sequel to major 1996 international blockbuster, began filming 20 years since the first one.

& to Sci-Facts..
July, 14 2015
, the planet..finally got close-up images & detailed observations of it and its moons.
July, 23 2015
Earth 2.0
announced by NASA. Kepler-452b, A planet discovered very similar to Earth and potentially habitable.

And with a very clever plot, with decent and some mind blowing twists, here comes Armada.. Mixing other Sci-Fiction Novels, Movies and Video Games and their releasing dates with Sci-Facts and a HUGE conspiracy theory..

First I have to admit that's I'm not a fan of Star Wars, Star Trek, Ender's Game ,even Battleship and all space fight kind of crap "Ooops sorry fans".. I'm not even a good devoted gamer..
But still I'm a geek kinda way..
I mean I'm a huge fan of The X-Files and the Conspiracy Theories about Aliens. And I'm okay with Independence Day's main plot without much of crap video games fights.. just what serve the plot.

I want to Believe, but I'm not willing to live in a video game worlds and unrealistic space and UFO fight crab... Just Want to Believe....

***** The Story begans with Zack Lightman, a high school student, spotting a flying saucer while staring out his classroom window..

'What's the hell...it started just like that? Is he sure he wasn't just starting at a poster in Fox Mulder's office?
Okay, first chapter and I'm outta here. And won't rate it, it wouldn't be fair. Future with Aliens goofing around is NOT my type of read..

Back to Chapter 1

Then,we see that Zack has a pretty good backstory, he's likeable and interesting character to read...
And, most importantly, Turns out spotting a flying saucer is unusal and kinda crazy in the world of the story
That is good for me..So why not reading another chapter?

Zack thinking he gone mad like his geeky father who passed away at the age 19, Zack may never remember him alive, he died when Zack was less than a year old..

He goes into his father old possessions and re-read a note that made him disturbed before..
it seems that his father was connecting since the 70s till his passing away in 1999 every sci-fi blockbuster movies,Aliens invasion novels and space wars games releasing dates, and connecting it with interesting conspiracy theories about it. Specially with a very good use of an urban legend about video gaming machines.

His father thought that the Military or NASA preparing people by these movies and novels for the news that we are not alone in the universe.. and we may have Alien Invasion....soon!!!!!
AND all the games and tracking the top players is to train a new army of Gamers..to be real Soliders..

And that's what I did at the beginning of the review...connecting the dots just like Zack's Father notes.. oh and here's more..

April 16, 2015
Star Wars
is baaaaack, 2nd Trailer for the third trilogy that will hit cinemas next December after 10 years since the end of the second trilogy.
April 20, 2015
Star Wars Anthology
for next year release in another side story of Star Wars Universe...

And don't forget Gravity 2013, Interstellar 2014 ..the Oscar's sweethearts who will get a new bro, The Martian 2015...
YEAH I'm getting paranoid just like Zack's father...Thank you very much Ernest Cline.

So , to get raid of these crazy thoughts that he saw a flying saucer, he decided to stop gaming for few days..
He plays Armada.. a worldwide Earth Vs. Aliens online multiplayer game..
but he just must do one big mission to keep his top 10 rank before his short quitting...a mission to destroy the Alien planet..the EDA 'Earth Defense Alliance' depends on them.

Long story short, the mission failed ... and Zack finds out the day after that his father was right...they are not controlling Drones in Armada Game...they controlling it in real life War....Organized by EDA...which now really depends on the real gamers....all around the world.

That was the first few chapters 'Phase One' of thks amazingly written novel..

And man , oh man.. I'm not space gamer at all and get bored of watching one in the Star Wars movies , sorry fans again, BUT the way Ernest wrote it in phase one was more than interesting and get me hooked with the story..
It is way better with more convincing plot by using remote Drones , like controlling space ships and Big robots by your home PC, taplets, or gaming devices.

And what I loved more the deeper message and moral of the story..

Humanity and Wars
I love how the novel profiling how wars begins...how it's always stars with minor or stupid misunderstanding...
All war is deception.
If we don't end war, war will end us

With perfect mix of lovable characters, nostalgic memories full of songs, movies and novels you find that you're really fighting with them for humanity... no matter how the fight gets bigger and bigger...you're in..
Even if you're, like me , not a gamer at all, you'll love to read it..and play.
Plot twists, and I loved using mature characters, since I'm sick of YA with all the main characters are 14 to 16. The rest are useless.

Having a religious positive character, and making clear that religion is not far from our real world was beyond awesome, since I feel sick that all characters in other novels just don't believe in God or anything.
There was an unnecessary gay relation but that's okay.

By the end...I was so teary and emotionally touched ...I loved it so much, I loved all the twists and characters...
I doubt if I need a part 2...But this one was really perfect with awesome ending..I Loved it..

And now , I'm already feeling nostalgic to the Armada game..EDA..The Moon Base..and Mr.Lightman's mix tape.

The latter reminds me much with Chris Pratt in Guardians of the Galaxy..but that's okay, I liked him too.


I'd never bought this novel if I've read the plot..or even the first couple of lines 'the flying saucer :)'.I'd thought it'd be teenager vs aliens kind of game..
I just bought it cause it released first time in Egypt at the same international release day, which happens to be my birthday 'BTW thank you Cherry Blossom Books'
Also there's excellent praise for the author's debut novel..how geeky and nostalgic he is 'which apply to me as well kinda way'...
And I now so glad that I got it.. Ernest is really talented geeky author and successfully got me into his game..
I am not a gamer and not Sci-Fi big fan...But Armada become one of my very favourite read this year, and may be all time too..

Many pitching around 'Ready Player One' was better, but why comparing? I didn't read it yet but now I'm more than exciting to read it too.

Till we play again in Ready Player One..

Mohammed Arabey
from 5 August 2015
to 9 August 2015
Profile Image for Lyn.
1,883 reviews16.6k followers
April 24, 2017
A stoned gamer’s fantasy.

Ernest Cline, you had me at “pass the blue milk, Aunt Beru”.

Author Ernest Cline follows up his brilliant 2011 novel Ready Player One with 2015’s Armada. Not as epic or as good (in any way) as its predecessor Armada does feature Cline’s inimitable ability to weave elements of pop culture, especially gaming and SF/F, into a fun adventure.

At best it is a cool Pink Floyd song, at worst a stupid Adam Sandler film. Armada tells the story of Zack Lightman, a gamer hero who has lost his father and his way amidst an uncaring universe. But wait! All’s not what it seems, and Cline packs a full picnic of tasty similes, munchilicious metaphors and a fun sized cornucopia of pop culture references into a passable gamerpunk Frank Capra feelgooder.

Ready Player One was a fun ride of 80s trivia, but it also had a solid story and a conflict that held the reader’s attention. Armada is told with Cline’s wit and erudite understating of all things SF, served up with a heaping side order of quotes and citations to film, song and graphic novel, but much of the storyline feels contrived. Borrowing heavily from such classics as Ender's Game, Last Starfighter and The Sirens of Titan Cline mails in a follow-up in lieu of a straight up sequel.

In the winter of 1986 I went to the movies with some friends to see the action film Iron Eagle. What is very memorable to me about this very forgettable lame ass flick was the realization that I would one day criticize and review popular media. We left the cinema and I was shocked to hear that my friends liked the swill. “What the hell? That was several latitudes south of stupid. A rock and roller 18 year old kid who steals an F-18 to rescue his dad? Really? I wasted $3.35 minimum wage coinage that I could have better used towards underage consumption???” I find it no small coincidence that Cline references Iron Eagle shamelessly.

Not bad.

Profile Image for Ashley Cruzen.
342 reviews539 followers
September 10, 2019
First things first: if you go into Armada trying to compare it to Ready Player One you're doing a great disservice to yourself and this book. They are two very different entities. While I love the common thread of gaming running through both books, the space nerd in me was squeeing the whole way through this one.

That being said, I really really loved this. The pop culture references were once again top notch and I really really dig government conspiracy theories. It was a bit intense having this whole book take place in one day but I'm not sure I can imagine it any other way.
Profile Image for seak.
434 reviews473 followers
August 18, 2015
This book gave me an epiphany and that's not always a good thing apparently.

Up to the moment I read this book, I'd started to convince myself that really the main thing that mattered to me in a book was readability. How much was a both looking forward to reading a book and how fast were the pages turning for me? Those are two things I thought a great deal of in terms of esteem (and star rating points).

Armada had all that. I did look forward to reading it and I thought the pages turned rather quickly all in all.

But I started to realize that even though I was enjoying myself, I didn't really think all that much of this story. It's rather bland for the most part and so chalk full of 80's nerdery it's almost as if no other nerdery is allowed or considered worthy.

Now, this 80's geekiness works really well in Cline's debut, Ready Player One (How do I love thee? Let me count the ways...), because it's essential to the story. Maybe we should add, because it was new, but I don't know if you can go that far. When the premise revolves around the 80s it just works.

Here, Armada's 80's affiliation has more to do with a kid's dead father's obsession and begins to grate in all the wrong ways. It's as if this geeky kid never realized there were other nerdy things to do ... even though he's obsessed with a very hyper-futuristic video game that all kids his age are obsessed with. It'd've been fine with additional, modern references - 80's references are fine - it's just that it begins to sound like that's the only worthy decade when that's far from the truth and arguably only the beginning of a very many great decades for geekery that only got better.

It's reinforced by the fact that only those other characters who also know 80's lore are considered with it, cool, on fleek (that's what the kids are saying these days right? *cough* *cough*).

To reiterate it's like the emphasis makes it seem like you're only cool (geeky) if you're up on your 80's geekery. If not, you're not actually a geek.

Now, I don't want to act like I didn't like Armada. I enjoyed it quite a bit and I admit that my expectations were nigh-on insurmountable after how much I fell for Ready Player One. I still enjoyed Armada, I just won't be fondly remembering my time with the book like I still do with RPO. It's a fun romp and I've forgone mention of the inconsistencies I saw (I think I gave it a hard enough time as is).

I'll still be scooping up Cline's next book, but probably not with as much fervor. Expectations have been tempered.

3 out of 5 Stars (recommended with reservations)
Profile Image for Will M..
304 reviews625 followers
August 16, 2015
"Kill or be killed. Conquer or be conquered. Survive or go extinct."

My review of Cline's first novel: Ready Player One

If you clicked on the link above and read my review of RPO, you would know that I was completely blown away by his first novel. RPO will always be my favorite novel of all time, and that fact managed to alter my expectations when it comes to the Sci-Fi genre. I haven't read a novel as good as RPO, but hopefully I'd find one soon. After I finished it last year, I checked if Cline had other novels published, and unfortunately none were in existence. Armada was more than a year away, and I was honestly expecting this to be just as good, if not better. If you would ask me what my first reaction was while reading the novel, I'd say I was disappointed halfway through. In the end though, I had mixed emotions. Mixture of sadness, happiness, disappointment, and an inexpressible feeling of wanting for more.

I will not compare RPO and Armada in this review. Yes, I liked the former more than the latter, but Armada was good in its own way. It deserves a proper review. If you're looking for someone who did a comparison of the two, then I'd suggest reading someone else's review. The first paragraph was more of a backstory of why I read this novel in the first place, and the shorter version of the reason would be that Ernest Cline is one of my favorite authors ever, and also because the premise of Armada was compelling as fuck.

Let's talk about the plot. I heard a copious amount of comparison between Armada and The Last Starfighter. Even the author himself mentioned TLS in the novel itself, and I will honestly say that I haven't seen TLS. I had no idea what the plot was, so I read Armada and thought that the idea was fairly original. I've heard of the whole thing before, of course, but I haven't had much experience with it before. I'm sure I've watched something similar, but nothing recently so I didn't have much to compared it with. This could be the reason why i enjoyed this more as compared to most disappointed readers.

What I didn't like about the plot would be the very dragging first 1/3 of the novel. I hated how Cline introduced everything. At first I didn't even like the characters at all, and the plot was boring for me. If I didn't know much of the author beforehand, I would've DNF this. It was that bad, but then the middle part happened. The action started to happen, and the development finally kicked in. The characters were more witty and funny, and I believe that helped a lot. I had a clue on what the ending would be, and once again sadly I was right. No plot twist whatsoever , and I hate it when that happens.

Like I just said, the characters started to develop better in the middle portion, and I learned to like most of them. Zack can be considered your typical main character when it comes to Sci-Fi novels, but I still liked him a lot. His decisions in the novel were a bit out of the ordinary. I like a character who deviates from sanity, but with the right amount of insanity. I can't talk much of the other character without spoiling, so let's just say there might be some plot twists for you guys. You might not see it coming, unlike me.

The ending was great for me. I know a lot of people complained about it, but fortunately it was good for me. I liked how he ended things, even though it was a bit cliche. I only really wish for something specific to happen in the end if I liked the characters, and it's a great thing that I was attached to most of them.

I played a lot of geeky stuff growing up, so plus points for Cline, once again. I like to read about the games I used to play before. It gives me good feeling of how great my childhood was, and that other people experienced some of the retro goodness that i did. it didn't have much geek stuff incorporated, but I guess it's fine because the author managed to make to plot better in the end.

Mostly books tend to lose a star because of the ending, but fortunately it was the other way around for Armada. I was sure about giving this 3 stars, but then the last 1/3 of the novel happened, then I decided to give it another important star. Most people would consider 3 stars as an indication that the novel was bad, but for me most of my 3 star ratings meant that I still enjoyed the novel. I guess I won't have to confuse people now with this 4 star review.

3.5/5 stars. I decided to round it up because the novel was great as a whole. If you want a great geeky Sci-Fi novel, then don't hesitate to pick this up. I'd also like to add in that you should buy the hardcover edition of this, because the design is spectacular! Not just the book itself, but also the dust jacket. You'll understand what I'm talking about if you manage to get a copy yourself.
Profile Image for Megan.
562 reviews
Want to read
August 17, 2015
Ummm, Last Starfighter? Whatever, WANT!
Profile Image for Mogsy.
2,073 reviews2,634 followers
July 14, 2015
4 of 5 stars at The BiblioSanctum: http://bibliosanctum.com/2015/07/14/b...

For fans of Ernest Cline’s Ready Player One, I don’t think there’s any other book coming out this year as highly anticipated as his second novel Armada. The new book is again a novel with pop culture references galore, but whereas Ready Player One was like a love letter to the 80s set in not-too-distant future, Armada takes place in present day with a shift in focus to all things sci-fi and gaming.

Needless to say, as an avid gamer with particular penchant towards massively multiplayer online (MMO) games, I must shamelessly confess to having a natural inclination to stories of this type; more than once, reading Armada made me wish that Eve Online and Dust 514 played like the games described in the book, or that Star Citizen was released already. And I think if you enjoyed Ready Player One, you might enjoy this one too. In many ways the two books are different, but in many ways they are similar as well — both are stories about average young men in the position to save the world, thanks to their super awesome Powers of the Geek!

We begin the story with an introduction to our protagonist Zack Lightman, worrying that he might be losing his mind. Staring outside the window during one his boring senior math classes, Zack spies a flying saucer in the sky, and not just any kind of flying saucer. The spaceship looks exactly like an enemy Glaive fighter in Armada, his favorite first-person space combat flight sim MMO. In the game, players from all over take the role of drone pilots, controlling Earth Defense Alliance ships to do battle with alien invaders. Zack’s been playing the game so much, he’s starting to think he’s hallucinating it in his real life as well.

Turns out, the good news is that Zack’s not crazy. The enemy fighter he glimpsed was as real as it could be. The bad news is, so is the Earth Defense Alliance and the war against the aliens. Governments around the world have known about this imminent attack for decades, and all the science fiction films and video games since the 70s have been preparing humanity for this very moment. Since their inception, online games like Armada and its companion ground-based first-person shooter Terra Firma have been training and honing the skills of potential recruits for the coming battle, right under everyone’s noses. As one of the highest ranked players in Armada, Zack is enlisted with other skilled gamers into the EDA’s forces.

It should have been a dream come true. In fact, the entire book reads like a wish fulfillment fantasy for any gamer who has ever wanted their favorite video game to be real, and to be the big damn hero of their own epic adventure. But still, Zack can’t shake the feeling that there’s something wrong. For example, if this real, why then are the aliens acting exactly like the way they would in his games and in all the science-fiction movies he grew up with? Zach realizes that life is imitating art when it really shouldn’t be – and it’s this concept that erodes the idea that Armada is just another version of The Last Starfighter but Ernest Cline style. Yes, the author has adapted that theme for his book, but at the same time he’s also subverted it, so that certain sections almost read like a tongue-in-cheek, satirical look at what audiences today expect to see out of an alien invasion story.

The story of Armada is thus actually quite clever, despite it being undeniably cheesy. We reach a saturation point with many of its ideas – some of which border on the totally ridiculous – that frequently call for a good deal of suspension of disbelief on the reader’s part (and not least because entrusting the fate of the entire human race to a bunch of regular civilian gamers is a dubious idea; if you even spend three minutes exposed to the general chat of any popular MMO, you can kind of infer why). And yet, the book is also undeniably fun. Simply put, the cheese works. It worked the same way it worked for a film like Galaxy Quest which parodied a lot of well-known Star Trek and sci-fi tropes, but somehow in the end still managed to function incredibly well as its own action-adventure stand alone. The result is that it’s still possible for someone not familiar with gamer culture or references to sci-fi movies like Star Wars (of which there are many) to enjoy Armada. However, writing as an addict to online gaming and all things Star Wars, I think that in many ways Armada can also be seen as lovely tribute to fans.

It does seem, though, that Ernest Cline has chosen his target audience and defined his niche, pressing the same hot buttons that brought him success with Ready Player One. He employs similar gimmicks in Armada, appealing to the reader’s sense of nostalgia while loading the book with lots of movie quotes and injecting a similar style of humor. A lot would depend on the individual reader, of course, but whether audiences will embrace this shtick again or demand something different, I think only time will tell. We’re also focusing less on general 80s this time around, so I think the appeal will also be much narrower, and it’s possible that those who really liked Ready Player One might not find the same enjoyment in Armada.

All told, my own stance is simple: if you’re just looking for a fun read, you’ll get it in spades. While the plot and characters in Armada aren’t particularly deep, the book certainly isn’t aiming to be a literary masterpiece. Instead, it goes for broke, not caring how far it goes in its quest to provide the maximum entertainment value for your time. As a result, Armada ends up being pure, unadulterated escapism. I loved the book, devouring it as soon as I got my hands on it and I sure don’t regret doing so at all. I can think of no other science fiction novel coming out this summer that would make a better beach read.
Profile Image for Maxwell.
1,174 reviews8,394 followers
June 28, 2015
"I was staring out the classroom window and daydreaming of adventure when I spotted the flying saucer."

From the very first sentence of the book, Ernest Cline takes the reader on a heart-pounding, laser-shooting, smile-inducing adventure. Fans of his first novel Ready Player One will find themselves transported into a world of geeky allusions, a diverse cast of characters, and honestly, a really, really good time.

Now it's inevitable to compare Armada to RPO because of Cline centering both around the idea of video games and virtual reality. However, while there are similarities (the narrator Zack is quite similar in voice to RPO's Wade Watts; tons of nerdy references, action-adventure, and more), this one still stands apart and on its own.

I seriously couldn't put this book down. It started off a bit slow, very technical as far as video game and science fiction terminology goes, and took a bit to get into the action. But once it did, I ate this book up. The pacing was so quick that I felt compelled to read on. Most of the action of the book takes place in 24 hours. It's insane. And Zack is a snarky, likeable, albeit a bit average, narrator that I enjoyed getting inside his head. And of course there are a few plot twists thrown in that shocked me.

One of my favorite aspects of the book was the sort of alternate history/conspiracy theories that are presented to you. Also a female U.S. president; yes please.

But of course, I had a few minor issues with how Cline represented the love interest (talk about manic pixie dream girl), and the ending was just as fast-paced as the rest of the book. I would've been totally fine with 50 more pages to flesh out that resolution. Or at least give me a sequel! It was just so much to take in all at once--for us and for Zack--that I wanted more time and more information.

Overall I was pleased with this one. I had pretty high expectations, which might be unfair to the author, but RPO was just so darn great that how could I not?! And while I wouldn't say I was 100% satisfied, it was still a fun, exciting, solid reading experience that I hope others are pleased with too.
Profile Image for Amanda.
263 reviews151 followers
September 10, 2016
My final thoughts below.

The only thing I liked about this was the mix tape playlist at the end.

There was nothing original or innovative about this story. I tried to look at it from a, "what if this happened to me in real like kind of thing and how cool that would be", but it wasn't. It felt like a rehashing of something that has been done countless times, and done better I might add. And even though Ernest Cline references those exact things, Wargames, Enders Game, The Last Starfigher, Starwars etc, he's not doing a variation of it, just flat out doing the same thing. THE SAME EXACT PLOT.

On top of that, a kid his age would not reference the 80's films with his friends. The main character has a nostalgic connection to old games and movies because of his dad, so I'll buy that, but all of his friends too? It just didn't seem realistic. I haven't even seen all those movies. That media would be way too old for a kid his age since he's born in the later 2000's.

Also the amount of pop culture references was tiring. Leeroy Jenkins was a really funny relevant thing 10 years ago, that would NOT be mentioned in what ever fictional game he was playing. It just wouldn't make any sense to bring it up unless you were playing World of Warcraft. (Leeroy Jenkins is a World of Warcraft reference.) Unless it made a come back on the internet, they wouldn't be saying it. On top of everything he says had to be a reference to something that is really in your face and he's just pulling on the nostalgia card. You like hearing about Obi-wan because you like Starwars. That doesn't make this a good book though.

Maybe I went into this too seriously and maybe this book is making fun of itself, but I didn't feel like it came off that way. The twists and cliche's were just too much and the entire story was just so painfully predictable. It didn't do anything to show me that it was a parody of the many classics mentioned or doing anything different.

I'd rather just read Ender's Game again.
Profile Image for Dan Schwent.
3,005 reviews10.6k followers
Shelved as 'buy-this-for-me'
June 17, 2015
Snarky pre-release review:
I thought there already was a novelization of The Last Starfighter...
Profile Image for Robin (Bridge Four).
1,644 reviews1,512 followers
May 23, 2017
Sale Alert 23May17 on Amazon for $2.99 Here

Before you pick this book up you need to ask yourself…’Am I ready to get my geek on???’ As soon as I saw that Ernest Cline author of Ready Player One had another book coming out and it was narrated by Wil Wheaton my amazon/audible one click pre-order went cRaZy and I shoved my money at them.

I’m just going to put it out there I liked Ready Player One more. So if you haven’t ready that yet GO GET IT!!! But Armada has some very nice characteristics too that should make it a Pop Culture/Sci-Fi/Fantasy/Gamer lover’s dream. I know that my geek meter was pegged out as I had the best time looking to catch movie lines, character references and gaming lingo and there was a plethora of that dropped all throughout the story.

The entire premise of the book really boils down to this –
What if they’re using videogames to train us to fight without us even knowing it? Like Mr. Miyagi in The Karate Kid, when he made Daniel-san paint his house, sand his deck, and wax all of his cars—he was training him and he didn’t even realize it! Wax on, wax off—but on a global scale!

So pretty much think of a mash up of things like The Last Star Fighter and Ender’s Game (which are referenced many times in the story along with Star Wars and Star Trek). Hey even though I’ve seen this plot before it is a good premise and a lot of fun for the story.

Zack is a kid with daddy issues and possibly a moderate gaming addiction. He is trying to decide whether his fantasy life has become reality or if he is just hallucinating when he sees an alien spacecraft from his favorite MMORPG (Massive Multiplayer Online Role Playing Game) Armada outside his school. Maybe he is going crazy or maybe…just maybe all the Sci-Fi movies, TV Shows and Books since the 70s has all been preparing us for THIS exact moment in time. That is when everything goes wonky and gets crazy.

There are some fantastically funny side characters that give us plenty of opportunity for some geeked out fun of dropping movie quotes, song lyrics and debates on the best cinema Melee Weapon.
“Sting wasn’t even really a sword,” Diehl was saying. “It was more like a glow-in-the-dark Hobbit butter knife, used to spread jam on scones and lembas bread and shit.”
Cruz rolled his eyes. “’Your love of the halflings’ leaf has clearly slowed your mind,’” he quoted. “Sting was an Elvish blade, forged in Gondolin in the First Age! It could cut through almost anything! And its blade only glowed when it detected the presence of orcs or goblins nearby. What does Mjolnir detect? Fake accents and frosted hair?”

And possibly my favorite since I also like to use swear words from worlds in books and movies…Airsick Lowlanders!!! <--- this is my own personal favorite to use.
“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.”
“Says who?” Diehl shot back. “Besides, what if BSG and Firefly took place in the same universe? You ever consider that?”

Remarkably I’ve had discussions similar to this with Hubs and friends so this book easily called to me. There were shout outs to Authors like Patrick Rothfuss and Orsen Scott Card, along with so many Star Trek and Star Wars references I couldn’t keep track. Also Cline hit on Galaxy Quest, Navigator, Aliens, 2001 a Space Odyssey, Iron Eagle, Top Gun…Say Anything (okay you might not think that one fits but it totally does) and much much more. There is even just enough time for a minor blooming romance to start. So you might be asking yourself…Why Robin did you only give it 3 stars? Well as much as I loved the pop culture geek fest in this I got bored with the action scenes and I’m iffy on how I feel about the ending.

My gaming experience is limited to World of Warcraft, Bejeweled, Wii, Super Mario Cart and Candy Crush…don’t judge me. I’m not a huge fan of first person shooter games and a large portion of the fighting is based on that. My imagination totally sucks when it comes to flying robots and ship fighting one another in space shooting lasers. I KNOW it should be exciting and if someone had pulled out a Katana and started hacking away through enemy lines I would have totally dug it and been able to really imagine it well, but I struggled so much with this part of the story and lost a little interest in it.

Also Ready Player One had an upbeat ending and a HEA feeling to it. While this is not all destruction and mayhem, although there was a lot of that, the ending didn’t leave me feeling happy or even sad I was just OH…I’m not sure I liked that. I’m not sure I didn’t like it either but definitely felt odd about it. I was slightly upset that .

While the ending does close out this book to be read as a stand-alone, there is just enough of an opening for there to be a sequel down the line. Would I read it??? WELL YESSS of coarse I would and I’d probably autobuy it as well.
Profile Image for Kristina Horner.
157 reviews1,822 followers
May 20, 2019
I gave this book 2 stars.

I am going to preface my review by saying I really didn't enjoy reading this book very much. I will admit that it had a lot of hype and big shoes to fill, coming after Ready Player One, but for me it completely fell flat.

Maybe someone really really into flight sim and tactical war games will appreciate this book more, but I found it very dull. So much of the story involved having things explained to me and there was very little immediate action, which was hard to get into at best - a snorefest at worst.

Not only did the main character experience insta-love, but it seemed literally everyone else in the book did too. Who even WAS Lex?

The pop culture references were SO forced, and often carried the pattern of "...like that one guy in that one scene of that one movie!" Uninspired. Irritating. Repetitive.
I found the plot predictable, INCREDIBLY unbelievable, and so, so many things felt too easy, too convenient. I just don't buy any of it. I don't want to spoil the plot, but I just couldn't get myself to believe any of it was plausible. And that ending! Not exciting! So meh!

Overall, I just didn't enjoy it very much. I think the idea was there, but it just didn't work for me.
Profile Image for Greg.
6 reviews159 followers
September 7, 2015
I'm sorry Ernest Cline.

I really did not like this book. It suffered from the same issues I found with Ready Player One, except turned up to 11 (unnecessary pop culture reference #1). First of all there was far too much shoehorning of irrelevant pop culture references, that not only wouldn't be understood by the majority of the target audience (having been born way after these movies / games were even relevant anymore), but also seemed to serve no other purpose than showing how much Cline knew about 80s/90s media. At one point within the first few chapters, Cline literally lists a bunch of facts in a completely unnecessary timeline that goes on for PAGES. This is not fun to read!

The second issue that Armada shares with RPO is the use of Deus ex machina ALL over the shop. Huge obstacles are suddenly explained away because, oh, all of a sudden one of the characters is a computer wizard and can hack any government firewall ever. Then might just be left out of the book for 200 pages before they're needed again. It's frustrating, doesn't make any sense, and makes for a very unsatisfying read, since obstacles aren't obstacles anymore -- they're just minor inconveniences. There is no consistency. Furthermore, huge plot points will just be dropped out of the blue mid-sentence, causing you to pause and quizzically say "...wait what?", instead of (what I can only assume was the intended) "OMG...WAIT, WHAAAAT??? NOOOOO!! THAT'S INTENSE. STEVE, GET OVER HERE, YOU HAVE TO READ THIS!". Characters come and go, magically form deep and powerful relationships in half an hour, and then we're expected to feel sad when they suddenly die in the middle of an over-technical, over-explained action scene. This is not how strong characters are formed.

But on top of all this, something which I don't remember from RPO, is that the book is....just badly written. It's filled with grammatical errors, it's far too technical, doesn't flow well, and I feel like the editor just gave up halfway through. It feels like a draft. Ideas come and go without being fleshed out, while other parts drag on, bogged down in uninteresting detail (like Star Wars Episode II: The Clone Wars - unnecessary pop culture reference #2). Ariel brought up the idea that perhaps Armada had been rushed, forced out off the back of RPO's success. It feels very much like this was the case.

Finally, and perhaps most offensively, is that this book had SUCH great potential to examine a lot of very current and hard-hitting subjects: primarily the use of drone warfare by the American government, and their recruitment of teenagers and young adults from large video game tournaments to pilot said drones. The traumatic psychological effects that these young people suffer from being forced to kill innocent civilians like enemies in Call of Duty is a huge tragedy, and one that needs more exposure and critical examination. Cline built a perfect platform to do that with this book, targeting it at the very people who play these video games and are most vulnerable to recruitment via these methods. But there was a complete absence of ANY psychological impact, no regret, no trauma, NOTHING. These aliens were all bad and deserved to be exterminated, period. Perhaps Cline himself has already been brainwashed into this very American 'us vs. them' mentality by the very media he so vehemently consumes and celebrates in his writing.

What I liked:
- Reading the book aloud with Ariel (read her review here)
- Final chapter (before the epilogue) presented a REALLY interesting idea, which I wish had occurred a few chapters earlier. Had this been explored earlier and in more detail, I reckon the book would have been more enjoyable

What I didn't like:
- Totally missed out on the opportunity to talk about the very relevant topics of drone warfare and its effects on kids & young adults as remote pilots
- The main character is a completely unlikeable snarky, rude, mean, horrible jerk. By no means do you have to love the narrator - but this guy is just rotten
- Badly written
- Far too many obscure pop-culture references
- Inconsistent with far too many Deus ex machina moments
- Huge plot points just happen at seemingly random points
- Characters disappear for hundreds of pages, flitting in and out like nothing
- Feels like a draft
- Battle/action scenes are far too technical

I'm not saying I could write a better book. And I definitely do not want to attack Ernest Cline personally. But Ernest, if you're out there, working away on another book, please keep at it -- you're capable of more than this.
Profile Image for Carrie.
3,230 reviews1,548 followers
August 7, 2018
Someone please tell me why I waited so long to read Armada by Ernest Cline. Ready, Player, One is easily one of my favorite books but for some reason I put this one off. While it's not quite up there with RPO it was still a great read. 

In Armada Zack Lightman is a high school student who loves his video games. When his mother pressures him to think about the future he claims he'll be happy staying in his job at the local video game store.

One day at school Zack happens to see something in the sky outside that has his mind spinning. There in the sky is one of the ships straight out of his favorite video game. Now Zack doesn't know what to believe but what he never expected was the ship to be real and to be recruited into saving the Earth. 

Within the opening pages it was immediately apparent Armada was going to dive right back into the eighties the same way RPO had. Before finishing chapter 1 I'm singing Crazy Train and scolding myself to pay attention so I knew I would enjoy this one to some degree. Which brings me to why only four stars, well the story isn't overly original as a lot of compared to one of the very same movies it mentions, The Last Starfighter. Ernest Cline put his own twist onto the video game training for war trope though and it really was a fun read overall that I enjoyed. 

For more reviews please visit https://carriesbookreviews.com/
Profile Image for Matthew.
1,219 reviews8,996 followers
November 10, 2015
Cline didn't quite do it like Ready Player One. With Ready Player One it was just the right level of cheesy nostalgia and pop culture references to make it one of my favorite books ever.

With Armada, he just tried too hard. Every few seconds there was a reference to something from the 80s - up to the point where it seemed like almost every character was speaking in movie quotes or song lyrics.

A lot of the details seemed forced and coincidental. Everyone had someone to immediately hook up with. The gamers were immediately supplied with months worth of their favorite snacks (even though they didn't bring them in until they only had a couple of hours to enjoy them). High speed internet stays up to allow every gamer to help defend the world - even with cities in shambles. And, everyone seems to be - or is willing to be a gamer in order to fight the aliens (sure, we won't flee in panic - we will sit down at our computers to play a video game!). I know that sci-fi is supposed to stretch the imagination, but usually it feels at least a little bit possible and not like the author is just making things up because he wants them in his book.

Finally, the book just felt kinda flat. I didn't really feel excited or intrigued. I was always just "here is what is happening, I wonder what pop culture reference is next".

I am not sure who I would recommend this to. If you REALLY liked Ready Player One, I think you will like this one okay. If that was just so-so for you, I wouldn't bother with this one.
March 19, 2017
Wow... Había escrito casi dos páginas de reseña para Armada y de repente Goodreads se actualizó y la borró todo. Qué lindo... *inserte aquí cara de psicópata*. Bueno, empecemos de nuevo.

Debo confesar que tenía muchísimo miedo de leer Armada. Tras haber leído Ready Player One hace un tiempo y que se convirtiera en uno de los mejores libros que he leído en la vida, las expectativas las tenía altísimas. Además, muchas personas decían que Armada no le llegaba ni a los talones a Ready Player One, así que durante mucho tiempo fingí demencia con respecto al libro. Todo hasta que me propusieron entrar en una lectura conjunta y pensé "vale, es ahora o nunca".

Cuando empecé a leer el libro me encontré con un montón de referencias a películas, series y videojuegos de culto cuyas temáticas eran las invasiones alienígenas, las guerras intergalácticas y los viajes espaciales. Y, vaya, si me conocen, sabrán que nunca he visto (ni pienso ver) Star Wars ni Star Trek; si me conocen, sabrán que huyo de los videojuegos de guerras espaciales; y, si me conocen, sabrán que ni siquiera me gusta E.T.. Muy mal, ¿verdad? Esas primeras páginas de referencias a una cultura popular que no me interesa ni poquito fueron mi primer momento de pánico. Aunque no duró mucho... y ya verán por qué le estoy poniendo cuatro estrellas al libro a pesar de mi aversión a estos temas.

El inicio de Armada es épico. Zack, nuestro protagonista, está en clase y ve un OVNI por la ventana, aunque rápidamente lo descarta pensando que es una alucinación. Aquí empezamos a conocer a Zack, un chico que perdió a su padre cuando era muy pequeño y desde entonces ha vivido solo con su madre. Un chico que adora los videojuegos y que, de hecho, está en el Top 10 de los mejores jugadores de Armada del mundo. Después de esta primera impresión vertiginosa del OVNI y demás, se vienen unas cien páginas que se me hicieron lentísimas (aunque, de alguna manera, necesarias) en las que nos cuentan un poco de la historia de Zack, de sus ataques de ira, su trabajo, sus amigos, su relación con su madre, la falta que le ha hecho su padre toda la vida, las locas teorías que leyó en sus diarios y su ansia por aventura.

Pasadas estas cien páginas de contexto, el libro se empieza a volver una cosa loca. Cuando empezaron a revelar lo que realmente desataría el inicio del clímax de Armada yo flipaba. ¿Cómo puede alguien ser tan inteligente como para pensar eso? En este punto nos revelan que existe la Alianza de Defensa Terrestre y que es una organización que ha trabajado desde los años 70 en el desarrollo de tecnología y estrategias para enfrentar una invasión alienígena... Y LO HA HECHO ENTRENANDO A LA POBLACIÓN CIVIL A TRAVÉS DE LOS VIDEOJUEGOS. ¡Joder! ¡Es que cuando leí eso no pude evitar pensar en lo posible que es! ¿Quién dice que no se ha hecho contacto extraterrestre y quién dice que los gobiernos y agencias espaciales no nos lo están ocultando para evitar un ataque de pánico a nivel global? ¡Y que entrenen a las personas con videojuegos! A L U C I N A N T E.

A partir de este momento todo va cuesta arriba, todo se va poniendo mejor y no podía dejar de leer. El mundo que crea Ernest Cline en Armada es tan perfecto. Es decir, a pesar de que Armada es claramente un libro de ciencia ficción, Cline juega tantísimo con elementos reales de la Tierra que es imposible no pensar que lo que te está narrando no está sucediendo a tus espaldas y que no hay una gran conspiración global. Con cada página que pasaba me preguntaba dónde estaría la base de la ADT más cercana a mí, cuál sería el videojuego que está entrenando a jóvenes y adultos para ayudar en la defensa de la Tierra y cuánto tiempo nos quedaría antes de la gran invasión. Y no es sólo que Cline juegue con elementos reales lo que hace de Armada un libro extraordinario, sino también la destreza que tiene para plasmar escenarios, nuevas tecnologías, las personalidades de los protagonistas y, sobre todo, las emociones y reacciones humanas. Hay miedo, amor, adrenalina, determinación, esperanza, pasión y mil elementos más que hacen que el libro se sienta real.

Hablemos un momento de la explicación tan absolutamente increíble que le da Ernest Cline a la crisis económica mundial. ¡Y es que tendría todo el sentido del mundo! En Armada nos plantean que la crisis se ha dado porque los gobiernos se han visto obligados a desviar fondos hacia la investigación, creación y desarrollo de tecnologías que permitan a la ADT controlar la inminente invasión alienígena. Se han creado naves, drones, bases, armas y videojuegos que permitirán a la Tierra defenderse llegado el momento. ESTA. ES. LA. MEJOR. EXPLICACIÓN. DE. LA. VIDA.

¡Ah! Y no me puedo olvidar de comentar el giro tan drástico que le dan a las peleas y guerras en Armada. No sé, díganme tonta, pero cuando alguien me dice algo de una batalla galáctica, espacial o de invasores aliens me imagino a personas pilotando las naves que repelerán el ataque enemigo. ¡Pues no! En Armada es diferente porque Enrest Cline hace que todos los jugadores, tenientes, coroneles, generales y demás pilotos estén en cápsulas de control especiales dentro de bases fortificadas. ¡Y es desde esas cápsulas desde donde controlan a los drones que pelean contra los alienígenas! Y claro, si algún dron cae, el piloto sobrevive y sencillamente adquiere el control de otro dron. ES INCREÍBLE. Yo flipaba muchísimo pensando en la cantidad de vidas que se salvan de esa manera y... wow. Just wow...

Okay, okay, y aquí va uno de los mejores momentos de todo el libro. Llega un punto en el que conocemos la verdadera identidad del mejor jugador de Armada de todo el mundo: el famosísimo RojoTrinco. Este es un punto de quiebre en el libro: cambian ciertas dinámicas y ciertas relaciones. Y lo mejor/peor de todo es que sucede durante momentos de gran tensión, pues después de todo están a la espera de tres grandes hordas alienígenas llegando a la Tierra. Me fascinó que esta gran revelación tuviera el impacto que se merecía y que todo no se superara rápida y falsamente. Esta identidad crea grandes conflictos entre ciertos personajes y creo que Ernest Cline maneja la situación con bastante realismo. Y es que, POR TODOS LOS DIOSES DEL OLIMPO, la identidad de esta persona no es algo que uno se vea venir o que sea predecible. A mí me tomó muy por sorpresa y casi muero.

Tengo otra confesión que hacer y es que le tenía mucho miedo/fastidio al cómo serían las escenas de las grandes peleas y enfrentamientos entre drones de la Tierra y drones europanos. Pensé que serían unas páginas que se me harían insoportables, pero la verdad es que no. Todo está escrito de una manera tan ágil y exacta que entiendes todos y cada uno de los movimientos que van haciendo los drones. Al menos yo no me perdí en ningún momento, que es algo que suele sucederme en escenas de grandes batallas. Así que chapeau, Mr. Cline, por eso. ¡Y por no hacer sólo escenas descriptivas sino que transmitieran la adrenalina y la tensión del momento!

Y pasemos a la siguiente confesión: ¿quién diría que un libro que nos narra los preparativos de la Tierra por medio de videojuegos ante una invasión alien me haría llorar? Sí, leyeron bien. LLORÉ. Y no una, sino DOS VECES. Ernest Cline es un bastardo sin corazón que en cuestión de diez páginas se carga a dos personajes que había aprendido a querer muchísimo. Que sí, que mueren defendiendo la causa. Que sí, que se sacrifican por los demás. PERO NO ESTABA PREPARADA PARA ESO. Es decir, debí esperármelo. La invasión europana no podía aniquilar a treinta millones de habitantes random. Algo de esa muerte tenía que caernos cerca. Pero todo es desgarrador, de verdad. Sobre todo la primera muerte y la reacción de RojoTrinco a ella. Fue todo demasiado fuerte. Y, claro, se me salen los ojos llorando por esa persona y ¡TOMA! diez páginas después otra.

Cline, si bien has entrado en mi Olimpo literario de autores genios, también has entrado en el Tártaro literario de autores crueles.

Para no alargarme mucho más haré un gran shout out a unos cuantos personajes: RojoTrinco, Zack, Lex y la AI del final. Quiero ser amiga de todos ellos. Si para poder ser su amiga tuviera que ver un maratón de Star Wars, lo haría. Calculen.

Chicos, si creen que este es un simple libro sobre aliens o una simple historia de una invasión alienígena... Están equivocados. No lo juzguen apresuradamente. Si han llegado hasta aquí, han leído que yo tenía un montón de dudas y preconcepciones sobre Armada. De hecho, creía que por la gran cantidad de cultura pop espacial y galáctica que tiene no me iba a gustar. Pero el libro me sorprendió, me dio tres vueltas y me atrapó irremediablemente entre sus páginas. Me hizo flipar, alucinar, gritar, llorar, reír y poner cara de preocupación. Armada me hizo desear que todo fuera real; ahora quiero que una organización secreta me reclute para salvar la Tierra. Creo que, a partir de ahora, leeré todos y cada uno de los libros que Ernest Cline publique, pues ese hombre ya me ha probado que su imaginación y su destreza al crear tramas únicas no tiene límite. Y, bueno, si no me creen con todo lo que les he dicho, lean el libro y quédense mirando fíjamente a la pared tras las revelaciones del último capítulo. Les prometo que, una vez lean la última página, lo único que se les va a aparecer en su mente va a ser lo siguiente:

¿Y si...?
Profile Image for Melissa ♥ Dog/Wolf Lover ♥ Martin.
3,538 reviews9,965 followers
December 28, 2015

Oh. My. God. What did I just read! My eyes teared up at the end of this book! YES! I teared up, don't judge me! :)

The first of the book just moved a long like normal with Zack being a boy that loved his video games and had anger management issues, but... I don't think he had anger management issues myself because if what happened to him to create that situation happened to me... you better believe I would have done the same thing! Kudos, Zack. You want to know what I'm talking about? Read the book :)

So, Zack plays video games with people all over the world. He is a senior in high school and works part time at a cool game store! They have EVERYTHING! It's a video nerds wet dream. All of the old school stuff and new too.

Let me tell you, this book is so full of the 80's that I wanted to step back in time! All of the old 80's games they talked about, the 80's music they listened to while playing the game, and references to 80's movies!!! Ok, I still have a ton of 80's music and I was singing away throughout the book when they mentioned a song.

I'm not giving out spoilers..soooo... some crazy things start to happen and I was thinking... this seems like The Last Starfighter or maybe, Starship Troopers.. Tron? It had a bit of all and more.

I love the camaraderie between the groups of friends in the situations they were put in throughout the book. I must say I honestly thought at the end of the book they were going to pull a SIKE.. all you just read was not real and so forth and so on. THAT did not happen. I would never have thought of that ending. I mean really? And I also teared up as I already said.

I recommend to anyone that loves the 80's, loves games, loves sci fi. You really need to be in touch with your 80's! The book isn't set in the 80's though.. sorry if I gave off that idea. It's set in the here and now, it's just got some cool peeps that love the gold ole days! I loved it!!!

**I would like to thank BLOGGING FOR BOOKS for a free copy of this book in exchange for my honest review.**

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Profile Image for Char.
1,682 reviews1,556 followers
Shelved as 'dreaded-dnf'
May 28, 2019
I gave this audio 20% of the total before throwing in the towel. I love Wil Wheaton's narration, but I have no interest or care for the main character, nor any of the battle games being played in the book.

Thanks to my library for the free download. Libraries RULE!
Profile Image for Jenny.
188 reviews1,311 followers
August 6, 2015
Is it weird that I felt trolled throughout the whole entire book, but I kinda really liked it?! I liked how its very different from Ready Player One and how it is good in its own way, so there really isn't much reason to compare both of the books. Nonetheless Ernest Cline still managed to be just as funny, quirky and geeky which was great! Since Armada had an open ending, I wonder if there'll be a sequel..
Profile Image for Jody .
202 reviews141 followers
December 14, 2017
Full review now posted!

Armada is another book by Ernest Cline that bases its foundation on gaming. It also uses some of the same '80s terminology used in Ready Player One, but not overly so. The plot and overall feel of the story is completely different. The gaming and terminology elements worked outstandingly well in RPO, but I just wasn't feeling them as much in this book. So, in other words I wasn't blown away. Armada is a good book in its own right, and maybe me reading it right after RPO didn't do it any justice. I will admit being guilty of going into this with high expectations, so I will put some of the blame on myself.

WARNING: Don't go into this expecting another Ready Player One.

The story is centered around Zack Lightman. A typical high school kid who enjoys gaming, has a part-time job at the local videogame store, and is counting down the days until graduation. Zack’s life is pretty normal until the day he sees the flying saucer. After that, everything changes. Not only for Zack, but the entire world. Zack’s gaming skills have made him one of the top gamers in the world at his favorite videogame Armada, but now they will be needed to help determine the fate of Earth.

”In reality, videogames did not come to life and fictional spaceships did not buzz your hometown. Implausible shit like that only happened in cheesy ‘80s movies, like TRON or WarGames or The Last Starfighter.”

I really enjoy Ernest Cline’s writing style. He is very good at keeping the entertainment level up and tying in bits of movie, gaming, or pop culture terms that tie in nicely with the story. The plot of Armada is nothing that hasn’t been done before, and let’s face it, most stories out there have been done over and over. So, it inevitably comes down to how the author presents that story. This is where I feel EC excels. He puts his own creative twist on it and gives the reader something truly original.

So, why only 3 stars. As I said above, some of the things that I felt worked really well in RPO, just fell a little flat for me in Armada. Again, we are told the story from only one POV. Which in this case is our main character Zack. I would like to have had at least one more POV to help expand on the dialogue a little. Get another characters take on things from inside their head, and feel their emotions. Maybe we will see EC expand on this in future books, or maybe he will stick to his guns. Either way, it’s not enough of an issue to keep me away from reading his work. Not by a long shot!

Despite all my whining this was an engaging read. The action and battle scenes were fun. Also, the whole conspiracy theory part of the story really added to the suspense. The end sequence was interesting, but felt a little rushed. Although, I do feel EC did leave this open for a sequel. And after hearing RPO is getting a sequel, I feel there is a good chance Armada will eventually get one too.

I think anyone who enjoys fiction and suspense should give this a try, but it would probably be enjoyed most by gamers and sci-fi fans. May the force be with you all!

3.25 stars ***
Profile Image for Jon Swartz.
43 reviews67 followers
June 25, 2015
I liked Ready Player One and was really looking forward to Armada. Was very disappointed and ultimately could not bring myself to finish past the halfway mark.

The prose in this book felt extremely clunky. There are few phrasings with any finesse, and many that made me wince ("She turned as if to walk away...and then she kissed me right on the lips, with tongue and everything.") A sci-fi or pop-culture reference is dropped unsubtly every few paragraphs. Ready Player One suffered from these problems as well, but the ideas were novel enough that I could overlook it. This book felt less edited, more stream of consciousness, and leaning even more heavily on geek cool and nostalgia.

Whereas Ready Player One had a genuinely original story, Armada unapologetically cribs its plot from The Last Starfighter / Ender's Game; acknowledging this within the book didn't make it any less derivative. Similarly, much is made of the space station and ships in the books borrowing elements from sci-fi culture (e.g. "[Moon Base Alpha] reminded me of the docking bay of the Clavius Base featured in 2001: A Space Odyssey"); at first this is an interesting idea, technology borrowing from sci-fi, but as the examples piled up it started feeling like abject laziness - rather than invent something new, the author gets to just steal from his favorite sci-fi.

This book did have a positive effect, which was to inspire me to reread Ender's Game for comparison. (There is no comparison). Ender's Game does many things right, but one is the mood it evokes - there is a genuine fear of the inevitable war and how much is riding on the main character's shoulders. None of that is present in Armada. Even though faced with a similar humanity-threatening situation, the atmosphere seems jokey throughout.
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