16 November 2015
Armada by Ernest Cline
[Normally, I'd have the flap copy here but I think the description posted on Goodreads shows that whoever wrote it didn't really read the book. Because it's factually incorrect and then gives away a good chunk of the book making it not as fun to read. So not posted here.]
After the phenomenal success of Ready Player One, I, along with about a bazillion other people, have been eagerly awaiting Ernest Cline's next book. As in rabidly anticipating. Great title - Armada. Great cover design.
Weirdly, as happened with Ready Player One, I had trouble getting into the "voice" of Zack Lightman. Maybe late-teenage male protagonists aren't quite my thing. And the plot of the book just wasn't catching me - gifted gamer with parent issues (deceased father), not great at school, obsessed with eighties/nineties video games and trivia. So I put the DRC aside and got on the list to borrow the audiobook from the library. Wil Wheaton had returned as narrator and he had been my way into Wade Watts's voice in Ready Player One.
Luckily, Wheaton's narration worked again. However the stars have aligned, Wheaton's voice and Cline's characters are a great fit. I was able to listen to the book and understand the character better than I had reading it. I liked Zack. My only stumbling block now was the actual plot. I've watched movies like The Last Starfighter and 2001 and The Black Hole (my dad and I watched a lot of sci-fi movies when I was a kid) and I've read Ender's Game. Even though Cline gives us a few twists, I felt like I'd come across portions of Armada in other forms. It didn't ruin Armada for me, which turned out to be a great audiobook, it just didn't seem as fresh or original as RP1. And I think this is why people seem to be bagging on Armada - it suffers greatly from second-book-anticipation-syndrome because it's predecessor was so excellent and this one is just similar enough to pale in comparison.
My advice: if you've recently read Ready Player One, wait a bit before reading Armada. If you've had some space or you're new to Ernest Cline, give it a go. Particularly on audiobook. Wil Wheaton is a fantastic reader of Cline's books.
Dear FTC: I originally started reading a DRC of this book I received from the publisher via Edelweiss but then switched to a digital audiobook borrowed from the public library.