Tuesday, January 9, 2018

Armada by Ernest Cline

Let me preface this by saying that I love authors who go retro in any way, especially since going retro these days means diving into 80's and early 90's culture, also known as my childhood. Ready Player One moved both forward and backward at the same time with it's combination of a dystopian future and a preference for the "old school," and Armada attempts to do the same by combing a love for traditional arcade video games with the possibility of a real space invasion.

The difference, though, between these two books is that Ready Player One takes you on journey that's a slow build. Armada happens fast, quickly jumping from an introduction to our main character, Zack Lightman, to an array of fast-moving action and dire situations. This means very few other characters beside Zack can build any momentum on their own. Everyone else in the book is tied to Zack - what they do for him or with him. What they say to Zack and what he sees of their actions crafts the entire story. With everything coming at you so fast from a singular perspective, some of the zing is definitely taken out of the story.

And it's such a fun story (but not a new one.) The idea that video games are really just simulators preparing the people of Earth to fight against insurmountable odds - how can it not be fun? Throw in an homage to old rock n' roll and traditional video arcades and you're putting people into nostalgia heaven. Watch out for the ending though. It's a little Spielberg-esque (everything wraps up a bit too neatly.)

All that being said, I think the best thing about this book is how the characters respond to making the wrong decisions. Guilt, denial, remorse - these emotions within the book feel very real and bring down the fantastical aspects of the plot, which I believe does the book good.

It's not going to be the best book you've ever read, and it won't meet your expectations if you think it's going be like Ready Player One, but it's an enjoyable adventure story that also has space travel in it, and a few unexpected surprises.

Also by Ernest Cline