Friday, August 28, 2015

Book Review: Armada by Ernest Cline

I really loved Ernest Cine's previous novel, Ready Player One, so when I heard he had a new one coming out that also looked like accessible sci fi, I jumped on it. I am not normally a sci fi reader but when it is firmly grounded in reality and isn't too far in the future (this is in 2017 so not far at all), it can really work for me, like The Martian did also.

Zack Lightman is staring out of his classroom window one day when he sees a spaceship. And as if that isn't shocking enough, it looks exactly like one of the enemy spaceships from his favorite video game. Stunned, Zack leaves school and goes home, and starts to think about his father's journals, which he read when he was about ten years old, in an effort to get to know better the father who died when he was an infant. At the time he found them confusing, and worried they indicated his father was mentally unstable. But now, things start to make sense. Could his father have been right in his theories about video games, sci fi movies and pop culture, and the possibility of real aliens? Well, Zack thinks, he's seen the spaceship with his own two eyes, so he guesses whether or not there are aliens is no longer a question.

From there the book jumps off into a breakneck thriller (most of the book takes place in just two days) in which Zack will have to do nothing less than save the human race. Some parts may feel a little familiar, but Cline acknowledges this and even has some characters say things like, "Hey, this is just like in Ender's Game." And all the fun pop culture references and rip-offs make perfect sense in this context.

I don't want to give too much away. But it is perfectly accessible for someone who only ever owned an Atari and who never really got past Pac-Man and Donkey Kong. You not only don't have to be a sci fi fanatic to like this book, but I think it's really geared towards those of us who are less immersed in that world. Some of the explanations might be old hat for big sci fi fans. But I hope they'll still enjoy this book. My husband read it immediately after I did and enjoyed it too. And with an 18-year-old protagonist who'd rather play video games than do schoolwork, this book is perfect to suggest to male teen reluctant readers.

I checked this book out of the library.

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