Armada by Ernest Cline

Armada.jpgI know that Ready Player One was some kind of phenomenal cultural explosion of nostalgia and good times in the community of people who grew up in the 1980’s. I found it over written and trying too hard. The author has obvious obsessions and he created a story that justified all of his obsessions. Since it also seemed to justify a lot of other people’s obsessions it was really popular.

Armada seems to be an attempt to cash in on the same experience. There are some aliens invading. Turns out all our video games, movies, books, etc. of the last fifty years were a secret government program to train the youth of today to fight these aliens. So if you play video games you can fly a drone against the invaders.

Great. So playing video games is kind of your duty, then. I mean you don’t want to be unprepared when the aliens finally attack…

The problem is that the story really makes no sense and has such obvious secrets that it becomes dry and dull almost immediately. The homages played to popular culture artifacts are so heavy handed and thick on the ground that they crunch under foot everywhere you go. It gets to the point where it’s hard to see this as anything other than the author’s Mary Sue adventure in video game culture.

It’s a “look video games are cool because they might save your life one day when the aliens invade” propaganda piece.

The personal relationships in this book are also eerily underdeveloped. Zack’s dad disappeared fifteen years ago, supposedly killed in a factory accident. Zack and his mom have been playing video games together ever since — because she’s just so cool that she plays video games with her son.

Well it turns out that Zack’s dad actually ran away on a secret government mission because he wanted to live on the moon and shoot aliens. So Zack finds him, takes him home and everybody is happy. There are no abandonment issues, there are no arguments or bitter remarks about being left alone for fifteen years.

Zack also finds a girlfriend — who is also a world-class videogamer — that he meets in a mission briefing, talks to twice and then has an enduring relationship with for the rest of the book, because apparently that’s all you need when you both play games you know it’ll work out.

I could complain more but I feel like I would be picking on the book.

It’s not a very good book but it you really just want to read a story that is told almost entirely from science fiction and fantasy movie quotes then this is the book for you.

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