As a high-school senior, social outcast Zack Lightman spends most of his free time playing the video game Armada, an alien shoot-em-up game focused on protecting Earth from the invading species. In fact, he has gotten so good that he is currently ranked number six in the world. But when a spaceship shows up at school one day requesting Zack come aboard to help with a mission, he soon realizes this isn't a game any more.
When I first heard Ernest Cline was releasing a new novel, I had a mini-freak out moment. I knew instantly, it would be mine. But after I read the premise, two giant questions formed in my mind. Will it live up to the high standards set by Ready Player One? And, doesn't this premise sound almost identical the Ender's Game?
To answer the first question, no, it isn't as good as RPO. But saying that is a lot like saying $9 million dollars isn't as good as $10 million dollars. They're both still pretty damn good! And that's the case for this book. I knew it would be nearly impossible to be as good as RPO (in fact, it won top place in the 2014 EB Awards - click the More tab for more information on the annual EB Awards), but its still a great, fast-paced, fun book. The problem is, Cline wrote nearly a flawless debut novel that nothing could live up to it. Armada comes close and is still worth buying and devouring.
For the second question, I'm afraid I'm going to lose some fans here. To be frank, I hated Ender's Game. I thought the writing was okay but I saw the ending a mile away and personally thought it was a cop-out. So when I saw the plot for Armada, I got a little nervous. To answer the question, yes the two books share a good bit of story line regarding playing video games and killing aliens. Armada just does an incredibly better job at pulling it off. Even though the story is pretty ridiculous and hard to believe (government uses video games to train pilots), I at least had a blast reading Armada and left feeling satisfied and full. The ending takes a slightly more serious tone than the first half of the book showcasing that this book may be more than just a belligerent alien species who have come to destroy Earth.. With Ender's Game, I was very disappointed in the ending. I left thinking, "THAT'S IT?!?"
I also very much enjoyed how Cline brought in a "life imitates art" aspect of the book. I won't go too much in depth to save you from spoilers, but quite a few times he parallels whats going on in the invasion to a famous sci-fi book or movie. That's what makes his work so enjoyable (especially to us nerds), the fact that its loaded with 1980s and 90s nostalgia. However, I felt the references were a little more obscure in this book than they were in RPO, but I enjoyed that.
If you've read RPO and are skeptical, trust me - buy this book. It really is a good, quick read that will leave you feeling happy you read it in the end. If you haven't read RPO, read this one first then go to the big daddy. If you haven't read RPO yet, what are you waiting for?!?
I received this book in exchange for an honest review through Blogging for Books.
I love to read and to discuss books. My preferred genre is sci-fi but I like to read mostly anything.