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Armada by Ernest Cline – Review

Armada Cover

If you’re a geek and you’re not familiar with Ernest Cline, you’re doing yourself a disservice.

In 2011, Random House published Ernie Cline’s first novel, entitled Ready Player One, and it took the geek community by storm.  It successfully married sci-fi, fantasy, gaming and epic adventure while throwing in references that had geeky readers grinning from vulcan pointed ear to vulcan pointed ear. Fast forward 4 years and Cline is set to release his sophomore novel on July 14, 2015 and the fans couldn’t be more ready.  The good news?  If you enjoyed Ready Player One, you’re in for a treat with Armada.

When Zack Lightman spots a UFO outside his classroom window, he thinks he’s going out of his mind.  Even more terrifying is the fact that the UFO is an exact replica of the enemy fighters from his favorite video game; a flight simulator called Armada.  Zack soon realizes he’s not going crazy and that he has unknowingly been training his entire life to defend humanity from an alien invasion.

Every geek finds him/herself wondering at one time or another when their time will come.  The feeling of being destined for something greater is part of any personality that has an imagination and it is exciting to follow Zack as he gets to realize the potential he’s always known he’s had.  His hesitation, excitement and skepticism are believable and allowed me to buy-in to this epic adventure.  Armada is in one word: fun.

In a style all his own, Cline takes his readers on another exciting, charming, mysterious, heartwarming, geek-fueled ride.

Zack is a protagonist with impeccably geeky taste and as in Ready Player One, Cline doesn’t shy away from highlighting the works that have clearly inspired him.  Whenever I found myself on the verge of comparing a scene to the Last Starfighter or Ender’s Game, Zack would beat me to it.  We’d both chuckle and I would get pulled into his cockpit even further.  The supporting characters are teased out well and successfully reveal the various sides to the coming-of-age Zack.  His loving and tragic mother brings out his protective and heroic qualities.  His boss and friends bring out his responsible and humorous qualities.  And of course, the high school bully brings out his violent and questionable qualities.  All sides of Zack equate to a relatable protagonist that one can’t help but root for.

In a style all his own, Cline takes his readers on another exciting, charming, mysterious, heartwarming, geek-fueled ride. The nostalgia created in Armada serves as an homage to geek culture and the fans that make it such a strong community.  If you’re a Star Wars fan, Armada will speak to you.  If 2001:  A Space Odyssey blew your mind, you’ll find yourself grinning throughout Armada.  If Ender’s Game is that book you’ve read over and over, Armada may become another one.   On July 14th, do your inner geek a favor and pick up Ernest Cline’s newest offering.

You’re welcome.

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