Ernest Cline
Armada Cover



This sophomore effort from Ernest Cline lays pop culture references on too thick for my taste.

Armada is about aliens, space battles and invasions. It's main characters (and thus the text) draw from 40 years of popular culture in tv and movies, books and video games. Any short summary of the plot would lead you immediately to one of those many references (The Last Starfighter, Ender's Game, Wargames, etc.) - this book is a collage of *all* of them.

For me, that is exactly what doesn't work. Our heroes vacillate between doubt and devotion, alternately remembering and then forgetting that this is like a plot from the New Twilight Zone, etc. In the midst of this, they throw out obscure geek references fast and furious, but miss obvious ones right in front of them (Lightman enters Crystal Palace but never thinks about the movie Wargames). Also annoying, the handwaving over advanced technology - "we got it from the aliens". FTL communications, inertial damping and large scale gravity control? Standard tropes in sci-fi, but not a good fit for this present-day story.

Back to the positive points - this author can definitely write. Battle scenes are exciting, pop culture references are correct and appropriate (if too frequent), and plot details are logical. The first version of the book available to me was the audio book read by Wil Wheaton, and he does a great job here. I enjoyed the Raid the Arcade mix (Guardians of the Galaxy, anyone?) which was fully documented on the last page of the book and is nearly all available on Spotify.

Overall rating - 3 stars. I liked this book, but nowhere near as much as Ready Player One. Will continue to read this author in the future.