Friday, December 18, 2015

Armada by Ernest Cline

Looking back, I had mixed feelings about Cline's first novel, Ready Player One, but when I saw this on the new books shelf at the library, I picked it up and put it on the TBR pile. The thing I enjoyed in the earlier book, as an aging 70s/80s gamer, was all of the references to video games and pop culture from that time period.

Cline seems to be attempting to capitalize on that nostalgia once more with Armada, because there appears to be nothing else of substance inside. I gave up perhaps a third of the way through, when it demonstrated for the last time its utter predictability and lack of any new ideas, though it certainly provided plenty of the nostalgia up to that point.

This is the story of a young gamer, Zack, whose father was also an obsessed geek, but who was killed in a freak explosion at the sewage treatment plant when Zack was very small. Zack idolized his father, aside from his reservations about Dad's mental stability when he found a notebook filled with tin foil hat conspiracy theories related to the government secretly releasing video games, gaming equipment and science fiction movies about alien invasions in order to identify and train fighters for our coming war with invading aliens.

So, as any of you older than Zack could surmise, the tin foil hat theories turn out to be all true, Zack is recruited as one of their pilots, and...though I didn't get far enough to find out for sure, it's likely that his father wasn't killed at all, but was instead recruited by the Earth Defense Alliance (it's mentioned earlier that his body was so destroyed in the explosion that they only ID'd him by dental records).

Another flaw in the story was when Zack takes on the school bullies by himself. Sorry, folks, it's not likely that someone who has spent his entire life sitting in front of a video console is going to have developed the muscular fortitude to physically defeat even one, much less three bullies, whether armed with fists or even a tire iron. True bullies are simply more likely to take the tire iron away and shove it up the geek's....well, you know.

In the flight school of alien invasion novels, I gotta give this one a downcheck.

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