Monday, December 14, 2015

[Review] Armada by Ernest Cline

Armada by Ernest Cline
Rating: 3 stars

Release Date: July 14th 2015
Goodreads Synopsis:
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?

I wish I liked this book more, even though I'm not actively a gamer at this moment. I've played Bioshock. I've played Smash with my friends. I've even been on a summer addiction phase of the MMORPG Tera. But this book didn't meet my expectations as I hoped.

Zack Lightman reminds me of some of my friends. He's obsessed with video games, particularly the flight simulator Armada. He'd rather spend the rest of his days playing video games, so when the game of Armada comes to life, in the form of an extraterrestrial attack on Earth, he and many other players enter the front line to save humanity.

Armada was meta. It referenced Ender's Game. And Ender's Game was a well done sci-fi masterpiece. It also referenced many other sci-fi video games and books, as well as many aspects of shooters that a n00b like me could not fully comprehend. As I read on, I was lost at times, and I wished I was more like my video game savvy friends, who could probably understand a lot of the lingo better than me. That being said, if you're not very attuned to all these references being thrown at you, you probably wouldn't get this book.

It was also so rushed, especially with the characters. Even though they had 7 hours to save humanity from the brink of destruction, the characters were being thrown at me, one by one. But they didn't really matter, because in a few chapters, they either died or disappeared or had little appearance over the course of the book. I couldn't grow attached to any of them! Also, it may just be me, but the characters in general were very immature. Maybe from playing video games all the time, although that is a stereotype that isn't true at all! I don't know how all of them spent their last few hours before the storm hooking up.

Despite all this, there are positives to this book. It was action-packed and fast-paced and full of close calls. It was realistic, given that millions of people died. It wasn't a game for Zack anymore, and he had to accept what he had to do. His relationship and reunion with his father was also touching. And the whole "Earth being tested as a peaceful intelligent race" could have developed into a sequel! If only we got to see more of this sentient race. It was unique, similar yet different from the likes of Jumaji and Ender's Game.

I feel that if I was more of a gamer, I would have liked this book more. Would I recommend this book? Not really. Although, I did hear that Ready Player One was very good, so I'll be checking it out soon.

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