Armada – Ernest Cline

I was staring out the classroom window and daydreaming of adventure when I spotted the flying saucer.”

Ready Player One was the book of the moment not so long ago, getting tons of praise and hype. I’ve only just picked that up – review to follow – and must admit I got a little confused and assumed Armada was an earlier work, which people were going back and rediscovering after the success of RPO. Nope: this is the new book. I’ve read comments from people saying they preferred it, but obviously you’re going to have to wait before I can make a comparison – this is just what I thought about Armada in isolation.

My first impression is that this book feels highly derivative. I’m not entirely sure if naming your ‘inspirations’ – books and movies such as Ender’s Game and The Last Starfighter – is all it takes to transform ‘rip off’ into ‘homage’. Or perhaps it’s more that the intended (?) audience for this book possibly won’t be old enough to remember the 1980s, when the world was first growing to love video games, and people like Jeff Bridges were being quite literally sucked into them (Tron).

Things improved a little as the novel went on, and a plot twist was introduced that finally made me want to keep reading to learn what the real story was. It’s… well, I’ll say no more.

Overall, I was in the (NaNoWriMo’ing) head space to need an easy read, which this was, but while it was alright it was neither desperately special nor so brilliantly written to get away from that idea that the author had just rewritten his favourite ’80s movie. Shame.

Hardback: 351 pages / 27 chapters
First published: 2015
Series: none
Read from 3rd-11th November 2015

My rating: 5/10 – brain fluff, vaguely enjoyable but too derivative

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