“I was staring out the classroom window and daydreaming of adventure when I spotted the flying saucer.”
Two years ago I was standing in Chapters looking for something to read. I was in the mood for something fun, fast-paced, and a little bit geeky. I passed by countless sci-fi and fantasy reads, until by some stroke of luck I stumbled upon a copy of Ready Player One. I was reluctant at first. Who was this Ernest Cline? Why had I never heard of this book before? What is going on in that cover? Intrigued, I decided to take it home, and thank the book gods that I did! It was everything I had been looking for and more!
I devoured it greedily and immediately rushed off to my computer to find out what other hidden gems this genius author had created, only to discover that Ready Player One was Ernest Cline’s first novel, and at the time, no other books appeared to be on the horizon. Needless to say, you can imagine my crushing disappointment.
Fast forward to 2015 and my book prayers were finally answered! Receiving a review copy of Armada in the mail from Random House was like winning the lottery! Despite the pile of books beside my bed that I had to get through for work, I tossed them aside and immediately dove into the book that I had been waiting years to receive.
Similarities between Ready Player One (RPO) and Armada were immediately apparent. Like RPO, Armada is chocked full of geeky Sci-fi movie and music references. Every mention of Star Wars, Dune, and Ender’s Game immediately brought a smile to my face. I especially enjoyed the list of songs mentioned in the story that Cline included at the back.
The story concept is also fun, and focuses on teen Zack Lightman, who begins to think he’s losing his mind after seeing a flying saucer outside his school window that is straight from his favourite video game, Armada. No, Zack isn’t hallucinating, but he has stumbled upon a secret that the world’s leaders have been trying to cover up for decades. There is alien life, and it’s determined to wipe the human race off the face of the Earth.
While Armada was an intriguing and action-pacted read, it wasn’t quite as good as RPO. Some of the fighting scenes dragged on a little bit too long for me, and I didn’t feel the same sense of urgency in the story that I felt while reading RPO. You would think a looming alien invasion would put a reader on the edge of their seat and keep them up reading into the late hours of the night, but I found it pretty easy to put Armada down and walk away from it.
That isn’t to say that I didn’t enjoy Armada, I just didn’t LOVE it. Perhaps part of my problem stems from my high expectations, and my growing anticipation for another book from Cline since finishing RPO. While I’ll admit that I was a bit disappointed by Armada, I would eagerly pick up a sequel if it was ever written (and there is the potential for one based on the ending). The plot also lends itself to a pretty kickass movie, and considering Cline’s work as a screenwriter, it wouldn’t be surprising to one day see it on the big screen!
Rating: 3.5 Stars
The Bottom Line: If you enjoyed Ready Player One, then read Armada, but with slightly lowered expectations. If you haven’t read either book yet, and you love Sci-Fi, then what are you waiting for?! Go to your nearest bookstore and check them out immediately!