Armada, by Ernest Cline


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 video game 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.

Armada was a great read. I hadn’t read Ready Player One, so I only knew that everyone seemed to like Ernest Cline. First, lets talk about the dust jacket for Armada. I’m glad I received the hardcover from Blogging For Books. Opposite of the cover is a blueprint of the Sobrukai Glaive. Although my dust jacket was folded weird, I usually remove it before reading anyway. The blueprint is pretty cool, and if you’re a super nerd, it’s suitable for framing.

As many have said, Armada isn’t anything new story-wise. The Last Starfighter is often cited, and for good reason: the premise is identical. But Cline does such a great job telling the story that it really doesn’t matter. The action is great, and the story mostly believable. Being former military, the idea of kids getting field ranks of lieutenant and captain is laughable, but hey, it’s fiction.

I had planned on only reading a few chapters before writing projects, but five hours later my wife was forcing me to eat dinner. Very few books these days can enthrall me to finish in a single sitting, so it was cool to do that. I didn’t get much writing done, but hey, that’s life, right?

Armada was chock full of pop culture and video gaming references. I even LOL’d at a specific interaction between the protagonist and his mom. I got all the references with little difficulty, so I guess this book was written for someone like me.

I loved Armada, and recommend it to anyone who is a gamer. If you can pick up the hard cover, it has the cool dust jacket. Otherwise, read away and immerse yourself in the story.


Ernest Cline has worked as a short-order cook, fish gutter, plasma donor, elitist video store clerk, and tech support drone. His primary occupation, however, has always been geeking out, and he eventually threw aside those other promising career paths to express his love of pop culture fulltime as a spoken word artist and screenwriter. His 2009 film Fanboys, much to his surprise, became a cult phenomenon. These days Ernie lives in Austin, Texas with his wife, their daughter, and a large collection of classic video games. READY PLAYER ONE is his first novel.


About Mark Gardner

Mark Gardner lives in northern Arizona with his wife, three children and a pair of spoiled dogs. Mark holds a degrees in Computer Systems and Applications and Applied Human Behavior. View all posts by Mark Gardner

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