Armada by Ernest Cline

Posted On 6 July 2015

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Just finished reading Armada by Ernest Cline.  I confess that I’ve been waiting for this book for ages! (Or at least it feels that way – you know how it is when you’re really anticipating something so badly).  I really enjoyed Ready Player One, in fact it was a big surprise for me because it really didn’t hold any appeal and I resisted reading it in spite of all the love going round –  so I did wonder how Armada would stand up.  Well, this is without doubt a fun read that will appeal to many readers.  I’m going to be frank and say it didn’t give me quite the same buzz as the first book but even so I enjoyed the ride and found it very entertaining.

The story starts with Zack – a young man, on the brink of finishing his education and with his full life ahead of him – even if he is undecided about what he wants to do with it.  Zack is definitely a dreamer, however, when he finds himself watching a flying saucer darting back and forth through the sky outside his classroom window he definitely snaps awake.  Is he the only one to notice?  And, what??  Is this space ship actually straight out of one of one of the games he plays every night? Kind of freaky!  Either there’s a space ship whizzing through the earth’s atmosphere or Zack is losing the plot! It certainly makes for a compelling start to the story.

I’m going to give a very quick synopsis, and I don’t think this will be spoilery at all!  Basically the alien threat is real.  It’s been real for quite some years and all those conspiracy theories – well, they’re more fact than fiction.  The men in black (not really but you get the picture) are aware of the threat posed and have been preparing us for years for a possible alien invasion by use of film and other media and for years video gamers, playing on space invader type games, have actually been learning how to fight off such an invasion.  Right here is the means of not only training but recruiting top simulator style pilots and Zack is in the top 10.  All his dreams of becoming a hero overnight are about to be realised.

Of course, if it was that easy then this would be a pamphlet and not a novel.  There are a few counter conspiracy theories going around and basically the clock is ticking.  What is the real threat here – that is the big question.

What did I really enjoy about this.  It’s a fairly gripping narrative for the most part (I hold my hands up – a few of the more detailed game parts lost me a little).  I enjoyed the writing and the story and it basically had me at ‘hello’.  There are so many references to songs, movies and games that I frankly lost track and there’s a good deal of humour injected into the story through that very means.  I liked Zack (although there were a couple of occasions where I wanted to shake him just a tiny bit for being whiny) and I thought that Cline does an excellent job of taking just about every sci fi film ever and referencing it here.  And, frankly, I think it’s very cleverly done.  You could spend your time saying this is a rip off of film ‘A’, ‘B’ or ‘C’ – but it isn’t.  It’s supposed to be a big mismash of all these films because basically the authority’s in this book were already aware of aliens, and everything that has been created since their awareness was raised has been with that in mind – so it’s kind of a chicken and egg scenario – is this a take on the films, or are the films a take on the aliens.  it sort of gives a certain amount of carte blanche to the author really which I thought was pretty cool (although I’m not really explaining my thoughts very well in that respect).

What did I think pulled the story back a little – the timeframe.  In one respect it’s this action packed wham bam type of affair, so great in terms of fast pacing and, in a way, I think that the book has been set up almost to read like an early video game with plenty of action and everything over before you even realised it began – and in that respect, again, it’s quite clever.  But, the whole thing takes part in about two days and it feels like there is very little time for anything else.  I wanted more from the characters, a bit more depth and a bit more life going on.  Not boring stuff – I don’t care what Zack ate for breakfast (although, strangely enough, that particular detail was included!), but I would have appreciated a little bit more, particularly about the other characters who for the most part were a bit one dimensional.  ( It’s just so very quick paced that it’s more like reading a graphic novel – without the graphics.  For me, and this is probably one of only a very few times in my life that I’ve said this, but I think this could have been expanded without any detriment.  The time frame could have been lengthened slightly and the characters given more personality and feels.

Criticisms aside, this is without doubt a fun read and it’s a great potential set up for a further book.

So, fun, fast paced, action focused plot with massive appeal in terms of huge doses of pop culture references.

I received a copy of this from the publishers through Netgalley for which my thanks.  The above is my own opinion.

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37 Responses to “Armada by Ernest Cline”

  1. Michelle Lynne

    I must admit, I skimmed the review a bit because I’m reading this right now and don’t want too much input from other readers, but I’m loving it so far! Glad to hear it keeps its momentum!

    • lynnsbooks

      Yeah, it’s fast paced all the way. I hope you continue to enjoy it. Post me your review when you’ve done.
      Lynn 😀

  2. Bridget

    I got this book at BEA and I’m definitely looking forward to reading it. Thanks for a great review! Glad you liked it 🙂

    • lynnsbooks

      I did like it. I had certain reservations but it’s a good fast paced book. Plus, I was trying to not compare it to his first book – it’s difficult not too – but I wanted to imagine reading as though it was my first book by the author.
      Lynn 😀

      • Bridget

        That’s a good way to read! I’m sure I’ll struggle with that as well, especially because it sounds so similar, but from all I’ve heard about it I’m sure I’ll like it. 🙂

      • lynnsbooks

        Looking forward to reading your thoughts 😀

  3. Michael

    I feel the same way about Armada as I do about the To Kill A Mockingbird sequel that hits stores later this summer — namely that both books have a lot to live up to in the hype that I’m mentally created for both. And I’m not quite sure that either book can live up to it and I have to remind myself to let them stand on their own merits and not judge them by my favorable memories of reading the first books by the respective authors.

    • lynnsbooks

      That’s exactly what I decided to do. It’s difficult but I kind of thought to myself that I had to read this as though it was an author that I hadn’t read before. It makes it a bit better. There are similarities in style for sure. But, a good, fast paced, fun read and loads of references that just make you grin.
      Lynn 😀

  4. Tammy

    I agree, this was a really fun read. And you’re right, I had the same reaction that RPO was the better book for me. It just felt all around better pulled together. But Armada is certainly worth reading, and the take on aliens is pretty cool.

    • lynnsbooks

      Ready Player One was just such an unexpected delight for me and so unique. I still felt this was really good fun – I think there will be more? Was that your impression reading the ending?
      Lynn 😀

      • Tammy

        It could go either way. I don’t think he has a sequel planned.

      • lynnsbooks

        That’s a shame isn’t it – it kind of had an open ending.
        Lynn 😀

  5. Danya @ Fine Print

    I thought the action-packed pace of RPO was one of the best parts of the whole book, but I agree that character development is really important too. Honestly I feel like one of the only people who doesn’t have this one as “high priority” to read but I have a feeling that like you I’m just not going to enjoy Armada quite as much as RPO.

    • lynnsbooks

      I think the thing with RPO was it was so original for me. I don’t read a lot of sci fi so it was such a surprise to find that book and to really love it. This one – it’s really good fun. It didn’t have the same impact for me but I really don’t want to be negative because it feels unfair. After all, if I’d not read RPO I wouldn’t be able to compare the two.
      Lynn 😀

  6. Steph

    I can’t wait. I’ve been anticipating this book for a while. I may have some lofty expectations so I will try to keep myself in check. Thank you for the review.

    • lynnsbooks

      I like that he’s managed to find a completely different story than RPO with a coming of age type of feel to it. I hope you enjoy it.

  7. DJ (@MyLifeMyBooksMyEscape)

    I still haven’t read Ready Player One yet. I think this will be a fun read – I would have loved to been recruited by the “men in black” after school – but I’m definitely going to pick up Player One first.

    • lynnsbooks

      Yeah, I think there’s a lot of gaming/hero fantasy dreams rolled up in this one. And it’s good fun.
      Lynn 😀

  8. Lisa (@TenaciousReader)

    OK, I did a brief skim as I plan on reading this one quite soon. Glad to see you had an overall positive reaction and that is fun!

    • lynnsbooks

      It was fun – and fast paced. Plenty to keep you turning the pages quickly. I’ll look forward to seeing what you made of it too.
      Lynn 😀

  9. Mogsy @ BiblioSanctum

    I enjoyed this book (but then I’m a video game fiend, so it was a foregone conclusion) but I do think that people hoping it will be RPO round 2 will be disappointed. Armada is nowhere near as complex and there’s just no comparison RPO is the better book, but that’s okay because I think Armada is perfect for a fun and light summer read.

    Fantastic review as always, and mine will be up next Tuesday (the US publisher has asked us to hold our thoughts until release date) 🙂

    • Nathan

      I think a lot of us looked at the blurb and said, huh. Just didn’t call to me the same way.

      • lynnsbooks

        Well, I did love RPO and it’s definitely a difficult act to follow. But this is a very entertaining read with lots of geeky references, a sort of coming of age feel and an alien invasion attempt. It is good fun. It’s not RPO but it’s still fast paced and entertaining.
        Lynn 😀

    • lynnsbooks

      I definitely think this was a fun read. Plus I think it’s quite clever and it leave and open ending for more books to follow. It was always going to be difficult for the next book to surpass RPO for me because it took me by storm but I still think this is a solid book
      Oh dear – I hope i’ve not posted my review too early then. I’ve checked back and it doesn’t say anything on the approval so i kind of figured a week before was okay. I try not to post too early. I wondered why I didn’t seem to see a lot of reviews – hope I haven’t dropped a clanger but then I’ve even triple checked and my approval doesn’t say not to post – doh!
      Lynn 😀

      • Mogsy @ BiblioSanctum

        Pretty sure it was just a thing from the US publisher, you were fine since you got yours from the UK pub! 🙂

      • lynnsbooks

        Yeah, I went back and checked because sometimes the publishers do put on certain pre requisites but I hadn’t checked properly before posting! Fortunately it was okay like you said but for one moment there I was having a little mini panic.
        Lynn 😀

  10. readingismylife3

    Wait… Ernest Cline has more books… Just kidding! Seems like all you hear about is Ready Player One! Great review 🙂

    • lynnsbooks

      There’s a good reason for all the hype with RPO – it’s awesome. This was very good fun.
      Lynn 😀

  11. msnoseinabook

    AHHHH I’m so jealous!! This is one my most anticipated!! Thanks for posting this review!

  12. jessicabookworm

    This does sound like a fun read 🙂 I am not a gamer and don’t really read much science-fiction, but I do love a good science-fiction film!

    • lynnsbooks

      Actually, I think you’d like it. It’s fun, a little bit like a coming of age novel with an alien invasion. Flight of the Navigator meets Men in Black meets Star Wars all rolled into one. Good fun.
      Lynn 😀

  13. Jenn

    It’s interesting watching the reviews start to come in… seems like the general consensus is that it is weaker than RPO. Since I still haven’t read either, I might actually try to pick up Armada first then – thus avoiding any potential disappointment from comparing the two!

    • lynnsbooks

      I think that is an excellent idea – and it would make it very interesting to see which one of the two you prefer. This is a really good read but comes after a book that everyone loved. It would be good to see if you really love this and then find RPO to be not quite as good!
      Lynn 😀

  14. jenclair

    It does sound like fun, and it is rare that I read a novel that I don’t want to shake some at one point or another. 🙂

    • lynnsbooks

      It’s the sign of a good novel! Let’s face it – there are plenty of people in real life that we’d probably shake every now and again so why not in our books!
      Lynn 😀

  15. Hot July brings cooling showers… |

    […] Armada by Ernest Cline […]

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