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Book Review: ARMADA by Ernest Cline

Note: This is a spoiler-free review of Ernest Cline‘s Armada.

I’m just going to say up front that I was a pretty big fan of Cline’s before I got a copy of Armada to binge read last month. I loved Ready Player Oneand Fanboys was one of those movies that actually brought me back to the internet many moons ago and helped me dive deep into the nerd community I now call home. For more than a year, Ready Player One has been the first book I’ve recommended to other humans who ask me for such things and have an interest in either pop culture or video games. So I went into this hoping to fall completely in love with it.


The good news is that I really did end up loving Armada. Sure, there were moments in my reading when I was unsure. But who doesn’t read an author’s second novel and wonder if it will stand up to their first? In the end, Armada lived up to the hype I had already heard from other bloggers and reviewers out there on the internet. It did a beautiful job of marrying some of my absolute favorite movies from my childhood, literary themes a reader like me cannot help but love, and characters who were both relatable and completely mysterious.

Cline’s sophomore novel tells the story of Zack Lightman and his race to save the planet. What great sci-fi novel doesn’t have some planetary risk at its heart, right? At its center, Lightman is a likable kid with a deserved chip on his shoulder thanks to the early death of his father during an industrial accident. He’s grown up with a great single mom and an unending love of the video game everyone in this world has been playing for years. When the proverbial crap hits the proverbial fan, Lightman is inducted into the world’s last defense alliance that he finds out has been training him via that video game he’s been playing for years. (All of this information is readily available on the internet (and so are a few chapters if you’re simply dying to get your hands on some of it before it’s released) so I am not spoiling anything with this information.)

Armada has the Star Wars, The Last Starfighter, and The Wizard references you’d expect after Ready Player One, as well as a number of other movies and games that you may have forgotten over the years. There’s are well-drawn sidekicks and a love interest who have more going for them than a pretty face, too. Actually, she’s kind of a badass you hope will end up saving the day before the novel concludes.

This second book from Cline does an admirable job of setting up a new world with new voices and the possibility for many more adventures before their tales are exhausted. While there is no news forthcoming from the author of sequels to either Ready Player One or this new book, I remain hopeful that we will see these characters again. And if you’re more of the audiobook connoisseur than paper and ink, you can listen to our pal Wil Wheaton voice this volume as soon as it’s available in hardcover.

In the end, I have to say you should run out and grab this book as soon as it’s available. It’s a perfect addition to your beach bag, and it will keep you satisfied until you are again feeling the need to scour the internet for updates on the Spielberg directed adaptation of Ready Player One that will surely be one of the most hotly anticipated releases of its season.

Armada will be available on Tuesday, July 14, 2015.

This review was completed using a copy of the book provided by Penguin Random House.

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