Book Review – Armada by Ernest Cline

You have only 24 hours to save the world…

armada-ernest_cline_coverWell what would you do..? The story centres around Zack Lightman, a typical American high-school teenager with a passion for gaming. Orphaned 19 years earlier when his father was killed in a freak accident at a sewage works lives with his mother, a vivacious widow who has never gotten over her loss.

Zack spends his spare time working in a local gaming arcade store where he is under the watchful eye of the owner. They are both players in the online multiplayer game Armada along with Zack’s friends. Spending so much time playing games Zack begins to question his sanity when the lines of fantasy and reality blur when he witnesses a spaceship that looks  just like the ones in Armada.

Before long Zack learns of the Earth Defence Alliance where he is given the chance to enlist in the fight to defend the earth from an imminent alien offensive. It’s during this time that Zack makes some discoveries about his late father…

In reading this book it’s easy to see references to books such as Enders Game, 2010, Contact and so on. The author makes a lot of use of pop culture references which would please your inner geek. However, for those unfamiliar with such references may find it a bit too much almost like the author was trying too hard. I did like the way music tracks were included in a mix tape that Zack’s late father had. It kind of reminds me of the scene in Futurama where Fry says “It’s Saturday night, I have no date, a two-liter bottle of Shasta and my all-Rush mix-tape… Let’s rock …”

With only 24 hours to save the earth accusing the author of rushing the plot doesn’t really hold much ground. After all, what are you going to do? Had the threat of the attack been drawn out a bit it would have allowed for a more paced reveal of one of the major plotlines and maybe flesh out the story a bit more.

Armada is a fast paced (well it has to be!) story which has some interesting characters and takes some of the influences of other novels and adapts them to suit today’s methods of warfare, which makes for an enjoyable experience.