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Archive: Other Books > Armada - Ernest Cline (3 stars, just)

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message 1: by KateNZ (new)

KateNZ | 2504 comments I listened to this on audio and I'm really glad I did. Wil Wheaton's narrative was great - it brought a fairly average book to life.

Zack Lightman is close to graduating from school - if he can rein in his video game habit sufficiently to keep his grades up, and if he can keep himself from getting suspended for hitting the class bully. His favourite game is Armada - an airborne 'beat off the marauding aliens' first person shooter game, while his friends tend to prefer TerraNova, a ground-based version of the same storyline. When Zack sees an alien spacecraft out of the window of his school - a spacecraft identical to that in Armada - he comes to the conclusion that he is going insane. Even more, he thinks he's starting to take after his late father Xavier, who died in an accident when Zack was a baby, leaving boxes of sci-fi videos, a stack of PC games, some great 1980s rock mix tapes and a bizarre journal that claims the government is using video games to surreptitiously train the population to fight aliens. The day just gets progressively weirder from there.

I am a massive fan of Ready Player One (the second time through was as good as the first!) and I love both video games and pop culture references. So I was ready-wired to like Armada. But this book seemed to try too hard to replicate the mood of RPO, and I just don't think it worked. It's much more overtly a YA book than RPO, but I doubt my sons would have appreciated it in their early teens - the charm of the references would have eluded them, and at least past the age of thirteen or so, they'd have groused about the story deficiencies.

The premise is great fun and the basic storyline is good, twists and all. While the gaming/pop culture was often relevant to the storyline, though, much more of it was gratuitous than in RPO - it just seemed like a self-indulgence of the author rather than serving a proper narrative function. The dialogue was very repetitive. The characters mostly managed to be whiny rather than interesting. For a story in which, supposedly 'every second counts' once the action starts, there was a huge amount of explanation and side discussions that took for ever. There were also some very weak plot links - I usually have no difficulty suspending disbelief in the interests of having fun, but I was literally rolling my eyes in places. Up to about the chapter 19 mark, I had this marked as a firm two star read, but it picked up much better once the action properly started and I eventually settled round about a three for it.


message 2: by Susie (new)

Susie | 4488 comments You and I generally agree Kate, and I loved RPO too. I think I’m going to take this off my list.


message 3: by Ladyslott (new)

Ladyslott | 1880 comments Totally agree, loved RPO but this book didn' t invoke any of those feelings.


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