Armada By Ernest Cline (Book Review) - Blogging Competition

Title- Armada

Author- Ernest Cline (author of Ready Player One)


It’s just another day for Zack Lightman. But then he glances out of his classroom window and spots the flying saucer.

Zack thinks he’s going crazy.

The UFO he’s staring at is straight out of the videogame he plays every night, Armada – in which gamers just happen to be protecting the earth from the alien invaders.

But what Zach’s seeing is all too real. And his skills are going to be needed to save the earth from what’s about to befall it.

Yet even as he scrambles to prepare for the alien onslaught, Zack can’t help thinking of all the science-fiction books, TV shows and movies he grew up reading and watching. Doesn’t something about this scenario seem a little too…familiar?


“I was staring out the classroom window and daydreaming of adventure when I spotted the flying saucer.”

First thing I want to say is that I am a big fan of alien invasion thrillers so when I first read the blurb of the book, I was truly very excited to read another sci-fi novel after a long time. It’s just the thrill of fighting the aliens and the fear of ‘what next?’ that always made me excited. I was wishing the same for this book.

Good things first, at the beginning of the book, the story seemed very interesting and it gripped me till I finished half the book and I couldn’t stop talking about it. I was really into the storyline of the teenage boy Zack who was nothing but a hardcore Armada gamer, a game in which he ranked 6th in the world where he fought against the evil alien race, the Sobrukai from Europa, one of Jupiter’s moons. Then one day he spotted a Sobrukai aircraft right outside his classroom window and that’s when his world turned upside down.

“What if they’re using videogames to train us to fight without us even knowing it? Like Mr Miyagi in The Karate Kid, when he made Daniel-san paint his house, sand his deck, and wax all of his cars - he was training him and he didn’t even realize it! Wax on, wax off - but on a global scale!”

The best thing in this book is the conspiracy theories that Zack’s dead father, Xavier Lightman, had jotted down in his notebook. I love how creative Cline was as he made up an amazing base for this story- using videogames as a way to fight battles against the evil aliens. The conspiracy theories were interesting to read which used pop culture (Star Wars, Trek, X Files) references to understand and solve the hidden motives of the US Government.

The problem is that although I seemed to like the storyline, I wasn’t able to fall in love with the character(s). It is one of the important things a reader looks for and that is, getting connected with the character as if they know them in real life. I didn’t really get to know Zack Lightman very well, like normally I do when I read a book. It didn’t feel real, it felt like I was merely reading a story, nothing else. The book didn’t come alive, the author wasn’t able to breathe life into the characters and only because of that everything was devoid of emotions. There was no thrill, like I normally experience while reading alien invasion novels. When someone died, I literally felt nothing, no grief, no sadness; it was too easy to let them go. When I finally finished the book, I didn’t get any ‘hangover’ (the feeling you get of not being able to move on after reading a really good book). It simply felt too bland, to be honest.

“Why would real aliens behave exactly like videogame simulations of themselves?”

Many times, the story was predictable. Every time I predicted something I told myself that, no, maybe it’ll be something different and then, Bam, it was how I thought it would be like. There were some clichés and, honestly, I don’t really mind clichés but the predictability of the story makes it a little less interesting. It was a page turner, no doubt, because there is always this excitement to know how humanity finally kicks the alien butt out of Earth’s orbit.

The book is overwhelmed with pop culture references (Ender’s Game, Star Wars, Trek, etc) and although some people find it a little annoying, I didn’t. Yeah, there were times it felt a little unnecessary and seemed to interrupt the story a little bit but (not being sarcastic) I actually got to know about so many movies and books I’d love to watch and read. One problem of using too many references is that all the other readers who haven’t read or watched whatever the character was talking about won’t really understand what he means. Few references would have sufficed though I really mean it when I say it didn’t bother me much.

All in all, the book is good but not so good that I’d recommend it to someone; it’s a good book to pass the time.  I read it during my journey to school and enjoyed it nevertheless, especially the first half of the book and a few action scenes. The description is vivid and there is no doubt it’s one of Ernest Cline’s awesome stories, something that most Gamers would enjoy. I am not a gamer myself and haven’t watched many films and series mentioned in the book but I still enjoyed it fairly so I think those who are actually fans of all those things, they might enjoy more. In most reviews I noticed people read Ready Player One (Cline’s first book) which, according to them, is way better than Armada so probably it must be that they had more expectations from Armada but I haven’t read that book. So for me, it was just an OK book.


 2 and 1/2 out of 5


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