Wednesday, August 26, 2015
Info: Crown Publishing, copyright 2015, 355 pages
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.
I started reading the book, and I was enjoying it, and then I was overcome with serious pangs of guilt because I still have a few titles remaining on my assigned reading list. So I stopped and moped for awhile. Then I had this genius idea to listen instead of read because none of my assigned titles are on audiobook! That's not cheating, right?
I'm pretty sure that was the better choice anyway, because Ernest Cline's Armada is read by Wil Wheaton, and boy do I love me some Wil Wheaton.
This isn't a new story. In fact, it's an almost overdone story. Boy loves video games. Boy sees aliens. Boy realizes all of his video game playing has really been in preparation for the very day the aliens attack. Nope. Not a new story. But the cool thing about Cline is that he knows this too. He acknowledges it, embraces it, and totally geeks out over all the stories with similar plots that he grew up loving. I mean, come on! The number of The Last Straighter references is staggering, but I have no problem hearing a guy gush over Alex Rogan.
While not as awesome as Ready Player One...actually, they're on two completely different levels...I still thoroughly enjoyed Cline's follow up novel. With each reference I understood, I did a little happy dance. And that's really what I wanted. I wanted to remember, and I wanted to get lost in a story written by someone who loves to remember as well. There are plot holes and predictabilities, it was cheesy at times and lacking in character development, but overall it was a satisfying story.
Cline is the uberfan's author, and and this uberfan is waiting anxiously for his next novel.
Sidenote: At times Wil Wheaton sounds just like Tim Allen...and that is awesome.