Tuesday, July 14, 2015

Armada by Ernest Cline

Book Summary
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.

Flo's Review
Sheng-lee for Armada! Sheng-lee means "victory" and look for it in the book -- that's all I'll say about that :). No wait -- one more thing. I'm calling it that there is totally going to be Sheng-lee! swag and memes surrounding this book. Calling it right now. 

I have to start off by saying that I have never read Ernest Cline's other famous book Ready Player One. Although I have been told by numerous friends and even one of those online quizzes that I need to do so. Based on everything I have heard about it, I believe it is a good book and that Ernest Cline is a good writer. So when I saw the description for Armada, I was intrigued. When I saw the author, I was even more intrigued. Secondly, I have to say that I am not a gamer. The closet I've gotten to identifying with gamers is playing Super Mario Brothers on the original Nintendo. (Dang it! Just aged myself.) And I couldn't even beat it, guys. The highest I got was level 8.2, or maybe even 8.1. And if I heard "The princess is in another castle" one more time...

Okay, on to the book! Armada is divided into 3 phases. Basically, I thought nothing happened in the first phase, the second phase was amazing, and the third phase was rushed. Let me break it down:

Phase One -- My problem here is that it was all information dump. We needed the information and the background, but in giving us the information, I didn't feel like Cline was telling a story and moving it forward. Part of the reason was because a lot of what he had to tell us took place in the past. Then he had to describe the game in detail in order for Phase Two to make sense. And in all that, I didn't really feel like I was reading a narrative as much as I felt like I was reading a summary or background report.

Phase Two - This Phase ROCKED. This is the story right here. Phase Two was where the action, the drama, the romance, the emotion, the suspense -- all of it! -- happened. Cline threw a big surprise at us that I honestly probably should have seen coming, but I totally didn't. We met a ton of awesome new characters who I came to know and love. There's a love interest and a bad guy, revelations, and killer action. The writing was tight and suspenseful, and I eagerly kept turning the pages to see what was going to be thrown at us next. I loved this Phase. 

Phase Three - So after all that awesomeness, I felt like this phase was more of a, "Oh yeah...we should probably end up the story somewhere. Um.....let's do this? And how about this? And maybe this? But not explain anything, just mention it. The end." Cline's strength in this book is writing the action, battle scenes of Phase Two. This Phase felt like an afterthought, like it was added because someone suggested that it be added. It didn't have the emotion and the heart of Phase Two.

Armada comes out July 14th, and though it had it problems, it's worth picking up. Also, check out the website: http://earthdefensealliance.com/. It's a countdown clock right now, like in Phase Two. I can't wait to see what it will become.

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