About a year ago, I read Ernest Cline’s debut novel Ready Player One. I loved the first third, mostly enjoyed the rest, and was mildly disappointed in the ending. I thought Cline created a fascinating world (though a far-fetched premise) but spent so much time trying to make “in jokes” and 1980s pop culture references thatthe pace of the story was often dragged to a standstill.
Well…I just finished Cline’s second book, Armada, and I’m afraid it’s more of the same. He lifted the premise right out of 1984’s sci-fi classic The Last Starfighter as Zack Lightman’s video game skills enable him to fend off an alien invasion of Earth.
Maybe it’s because I’m not a teenage boy who spends all his time playing video games, but I had a hard time getting into Armada and it took three tries before I could get through it. Cline writes for a specific audience and they certainly love him to death, but if you’re not part of the gaming crowd it gets boring fast. He goes into great detail on the exact setup and placement of video game controllers and music playlists that allow Lightman to get in the zone, but that time would be better spent adding some depth to his paper-thin characters.
I’d like to see Cline produce a novel that didn’t include a teenage boy playing video games and quoting obscure 1980s movies that were made before he was born.
The Verdict – Skip it.
Disclaimer: I received a free copy of Armada in exchange for an honest review through Blogging for Books.