Video games, sci-fi, and the end of the world. You know, just your run-of-the-mill, every day stuff. All of those things, plus a nice conspiracy theory comprises Ernest Cline’s Armada.
Zack Lightman is an 18 year old video game junkie, working at a video game store after school, which really means logging more hours playing. He’s cracked the top ten list of one of his favorite games, Armada. Maybe it’s in his DNA, after all, his father was a video game geek, too, with the patches and high score Polaroids to vouch for it; however, he never really knew his father, who died in an accident when he was just a baby. So when Zack sees an enemy spaceship in the sky outside his school, he thinks that maybe he is suffering the same delusions his father did about a government conspiracy of training civilians to fight against aliens via video games. It’s only after Zack gets picked up by the formerly believed fictional Earth Defense Alliance (EDA) that he learns that his father wasn’t crazy, but instead incredibly observant to what the government is really up to. After enlisting in the EDA to protect Earth from its impending destruction, Zack learns of secrets the government has been keeping from the world, as well as what they’ve been keeping specifically from him and his mom, as he tries to defend humanity from the end of the world.
The narrative was pretty good and quickly paced. While I appreciated all the cleverly placed references to various songs, movies, television shows, video games, etc., it also felt a bit forced and overdone while reading the book, particularly as the premise takes a large cue from Orson Scott Card’s Ender’s Game, as if there was a need to prove a knowledge of classic and contemporary sci-fi and video games to be accepted. I had a consistency issue with the characterization of Zack, in particular with relation to his age. He’s supposed to be an 18 year old, but throughout much of the story, I was envisioning him as more of a 13-15 year old–not because he had a relatively immature sense of humor (because I, too, have that), but simply from his behavior. Perhaps with more relatable, consistent context around him to place him as a legal adult, it would have been easier to imagine him as the 18 year old he was.
Overall, I’d give it a 4 out of 5 stars.
*I received this book from Blogging for Books for this review.