Having read Ernest Cline’s engrossingly-thrilling debut novel Ready Player One several years ago, my expectations were quite high for Armada. It’s difficult to write a spoiler-free review of either book because detailing the plots will undoubtedly ruin the books for some readers, but at its core, Armada is essentially a book about video gamer nerds defending the human race against an alien invasion.
Similar to Cline’s masterpiece, Ready Player One, Armada engages the reader early on—throwing nostalgic pop culture references left and right, introducing compelling characters, and crafting a page turn-inducing plot. Without getting into spoiler-level detail about the book, it’s safe to say that the book will appeal to general nerds, music-lovers, video gamers, and military supporters (or battle aficionados) alike.
With that said, I don’t think that Armada is the same level of quality as Ready Player One (which still remains one of my favorite science fiction novels to date). The plot isn’t as captivating or mind-bending, the characters are somewhat predictable and aren’t as relatable, and the pop culture references got to be a bit too repetitive for my taste. When it comes down to it, Armada is a pretty solid book, but it isn’t one that I’d consider purchasing for my bookshelf (whereas Ready Player One definitely deserves a spot) or even re-reading again.
Cline is clearly a gifted writer and I am going to look forward to following his work into the future. He does have a spot on a very short list of modern, living science fiction authors that I am reading. I’m hoping that he will keep creating content that speaks to me, unlike some other authors that seem to burn too brightly in the beginning of their career and flame out. Only time will tell. Until now, I would advise reading Ready Player One before giving Armada a read, but if you enjoyed the debut novel, you’ll probably enjoy the second book as well.
4/5 stars. 349 pages.