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Armada by Ernest Cline

Although I'm not a gamer (aside from my brief stint as a Sims Online junkie in the early to mid 2000s and my unabiding love of Felicia Day), I absolutely loved Ready Player One. I was born in '81 (shaddup) so I fully appreciated the plethora of 80's references. So many of the things mentioned made up my childhood and the nostalgia made my reading of the book just oh-so-enjoyable. But even without that, Cline's writing was funny, smart, with robust world-building and an easy-to-follow, natural storyline.

I'm not sure I believe the same of Armada, his book published after the highly successful Ready Player One. It wasn't just the need to suspend disbelief to read the book. I love dystopia. I'm ready and willing to believe a kid is picked up from school in a space shuttle and enrolled in an army to fight an upcoming alien invasion. I'm completely here for that.

So it wasn't the crazy alien storyline, but the writing that took me completely out of the world Cline was so desperately trying to have his readers buy in to. I believe it was meant to read like a kid's bored math class fantasy, but I'm not sure if the writing was intended to sound like it was written by a typical adolescent. Or maybe it was. I just couldn't get past the fact that a teenage Wade Watts wasn't written in that same immature voice. And Zack Lightman's voice somehow managed to be immature while using an adult vocabulary that created unnatural dialogue. That's what made me think that this was less a device or literary choice and more the author attempting something that just didn't land.

I still love Ready Player One and am looking forward to the movie. But Armada is one I think should be sent into space ::gigglesnort:: SORRYNOTSORRY!


Zack Lightman has spent his life dreaming. Dreaming that the real world could be a little more like the countless science-fiction books, movies, and videogames he's spent his life consuming. Dreaming that one day, some fantastic, world-altering event will shatter the monotony of his humdrum existence and whisk him off on some grand space-faring adventure. But hey, there's nothing wrong with a little escapism, right? After all, Zack tells himself, he knows the difference between fantasy and reality. He knows that here in the real world, aimless teenage gamers with anger issues don t get chosen to save the universe. And then he sees the flying saucer.

Even stranger, the alien ship he's staring at is straight out of the videogame he plays every night, a hugely popular online flight simulator called "Armada "in which gamers just happen to be protecting the earth from alien invaders. "" No, Zack hasn t lost his mind. As impossible as it seems, what he's seeing is all too real. And his skills as well as those of millions of gamers across the world are going to be needed to save the earth from what's about to befall it.

It's Zack's chance, at last, to play the hero. But even through the terror and exhilaration, he can t help thinking back to all those science-fiction stories he grew up with, and wondering: Doesn t something about this scenario seem a little familiar?

At once gleefully embracing and brilliantly subverting science-fiction conventions as only Ernest Cline could, "Armada "is a rollicking, surprising thriller, a classic coming of age adventure, and an alien invasion tale like nothing you ve ever read before one whose every page is infused with the pop-culture savvy that has helped make "Ready Player One "a phenomenon.

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