Review – Armada by Ernest Cline

Posted: July 12, 2015 in Sci-Fi
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Ernie Cline does an amazing line in retro 80s reference loaded literature for those of you (*cough* me included) who are old enough to remember it in all it’s glory first hand. Much like his debut novel, Ready Player One, Cline uses those pop culture icons as landmarks to highlight his story. Yet, in Armada, the films, music and video games he name checks all add up to become tropes for the self aware protagonist – one, very coolly named, Zack Lightman.

Armada, in fact, reads very much like one of those epic 80s films I grew up on. Like The Last Starfighter or Wargames, we see a high school kid embroiled in a race to save humanity from the brink of destruction. Cline has, somewhat masterfully, created a meta-80s novel that both embraces those tropes yet remains aware of them, never falling into mimicry nor failing to reflect upon them.

The novel is a fast read and the writing is fluid, filled with brilliant dialogue, a solid cast and lots of action. It’s pretty breathtakingly non-stop really and that’s no bad thing. Zack enters stage right and we’re given his back story – a gamer nerd with a temper who lost his dad while still a baby. Soon, that feeling that he’s meant for something more comes to fruition and he’s whisked away to defend Earth from an alien invasion. Lo and behold it’s because of his skills as a virtual fighter which makes him one of the best of the best and most able to help pilot attack drones against the invading force.

For me it was hugely enjoyable, especially the big dose of 80s- esque story that Armada serves up. It’s straightforward fun with little twist or turns but just like the movies it references, it’s awesome.

Review copy
Published by Penguin Random House

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