Armada is written by Ernest Cline, who’s better known for his book, Ready Player One, a best-seller later adapted into a successful film.
This book though, is written in first-person perspective from the point-of-view of American high-school student Zack Lightman, and to a certain extent is a reasonably good young adult sci-fi story. Much more believable and realistic in comparison to Ready Player One.
However, there’s far too many unnecessary pop-culture references, some of which could be considered spoilers for those not familiar with the movies, games, books or TV shows etc. that they reference. Unlike with Ready Player One, I don’t feel that these pop-culture references add any depth or meaning to the story. In Armada they just seem to be thrown-in to show how much pop-culture knowledge is rattling around inside Ernest Cline’s head, and they quickly become tedious and extremely annoying.
I’m not the biggest gamer in the world, but I’m of a generation that can understand enough of what’s going on to follow the concepts. Also FYI I’m old enough to comprehend most of the pop-culture references, unlike a lot of this books likely target audience.
…warning: spoilers ahead…
The plot essentially is that unbeknownst to the general public, videogames are being used to weed-out, train and recruit the very best Gamers in the world, to fight in a coming war against an alien race. The Europans – alien inhabitants of Jupiter’s moon, Europa – are seemingly on their way to Earth, to wipe out all of humanity. However, our hero Zack Lightman is rudely interred as Lieutenant in the Earth Defence Alliance, and from a secret base on Earth’s Moon, he help’s humanity to beat their enemies.
I debated over what to rate Armada, as part of me enjoyed this book, despite not being a big fan of military-style SF, or indeed a gamer, but all the pop-culture references let it down. In the end I decided on 3 out of 5 stars, as in my opinion it’s a stronger novel than Ready Player One and young Gamers would probably enjoy it.
Ready Player One
Ready Player Two