Cline, Ernest. Armada. New York: Broadway Books, 2015.
I have lived near Austin for many years and have never attended the Texas Book Festival. Every year, I think this is the year I will go. Well 2017 was the lucky one! Last fall we drove down to Austin (shudder!), found the right parking garage near the Texas Capitol and attended the Texas Book Festival. It was a dreary, misty day. What the day lacked in ambiance, it made up with books and authors! I bought some good ones! I missed Ernest Cline’s presentation or panel at the festival, but I did manage to snap up this signed copy.
I have struggled to write this blog. I am not a video game player so it has been difficult to focus on the points others might like to know about Armada. On the way home from the gym, I heard a story on the World Video Game Hall of Fame on the radio. I didn’t know there was one. Today they were announcing their 2017 video game inductees. It was fate! I had to complete this brief review on a book about a video game for you today. I learned that these games are chosen on 4 criteria: Icon Status, Longevity, Geographical Reach, and Influence. After reading this book, I wonder if Armada, the fictional video game of the book would meet these criteria?
As the book opens, we meet Zach Lightman, high school student, video store clerk, and an avid video game player. When he is not in school or being tormented by the class bully, he is at the video story playing the online, multiplayer, flight simulator game Armada. He happens to be one of the best players in the world. As he gazes out his classroom window, he sees a spaceship straight out of his video game zip across the horizon. Did he see it? Is he going crazy? No one else seems to notice.
He isn’t crazy and that spaceship is real. He isn’t playing a game, but has been training for the life-and-death alien attack some authorities fear is inevitable. Read this book to find out how Earth got embroiled in this conflict. Do they defeat the alien or are they defeated?
Cline has many nods to modern video game developers, movie makers, and other science fiction movies and books. Most of that escaped my notice! As I was reading, I thought of Orson Scott Card’s Ender’s Game.
I think this would be an enjoyable read for a youthful student who lives for video games.
I just read his autobiography from his website. It is one of the funniest I have read of late. I like a guy who doesn’t take himself, too seriously. Like many of the rest of us, he has been warped by his childhood, but managed to pull himself up and grow from a boy to an author. Both his books Ready Player One and Armada have been optioned for movies. I liked both books. They might make your average or above average video game player pick up a book and read.
About Ernest Cline