Armada by Ernest Cline

63%

51 Critic Reviews

Geek know-how doesn’t serve any similar purpose in Armada. At best, it maps the novel’s grand conspiracy that Space Invaders and Star Wars were government propaganda for a coming alien war (which is strange, because interplanetary xenophobia was never my takeaway from A New Hope).
-Globe and Mail

Synopsis

Zack Lightman has spent his life dreaming. Dreaming that the real world could be a little more like the countless science-fiction books, movies, and videogames he’s spent his life consuming. Dreaming that one day, some fantastic, world-altering event will shatter the monotony of his humdrum existence and whisk him off on some grand space-faring adventure. 
 
But hey, there’s nothing wrong with a little escapism, right? After all, Zack tells himself, he knows the difference between fantasy and reality. He knows that here in the real world, aimless teenage gamers with anger issues don’t get chosen to save the universe. 
 
And then he sees the flying saucer. 
 
Even stranger, the alien ship he’s staring at is straight out of the videogame he plays every night, a hugely popular online flight simulator called Armada—in which gamers just happen to be protecting the earth from alien invaders.  
 
No, Zack hasn’t lost his mind. As impossible as it seems, what he’s seeing is all too real. And his skills—as well as those of millions of gamers across the world—are going to be needed to save the earth from what’s about to befall it. 
 
It’s Zack’s chance, at last, to play the hero. But even through the terror and exhilaration, he can’t help thinking back to all those science-fiction stories he grew up with, and wondering: Doesn’t something about this scenario seem a little…familiar? 
 
At once gleefully embracing and brilliantly subverting science-fiction conventions as only Ernest Cline could, Armada is a rollicking, surprising thriller, a classic coming of age adventure, and an alien invasion tale like nothing you’ve ever read before—one whose every page is infused with the pop-culture savvy that has helped make Ready Player One a phenomenon.
 

About Ernest Cline

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ERNEST CLINE has worked as a short-order cook, fish gutter, plasma donor, elitist video store clerk, and tech support drone. His primary occupation, however, has always been geeking out, and he eventually threw aside those other promising career paths to express his love of pop culture fulltime as a spoken word artist and screenwriter. His 2009 film Fanboys, much to his surprise, became a cult phenomenon. These days Ernie lives in Austin, Texas with his wife, their daughter, and a large collection of classic video games. READY PLAYER ONE is his first novel.
 
Published July 14, 2015 by Broadway Books. 370 pages
Genres: Mystery, Thriller & Suspense, Science Fiction & Fantasy, Action & Adventure, Literature & Fiction, History, Travel, War. Fiction
Bestseller Status:
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Peak Rank on Aug 02 2015
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Weeks as Bestseller
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Critic reviews for Armada
All: 51 | Positive: 24 | Negative: 27

Kirkus

Below average
on Jun 03 2015

However, in the end, it’s the unrelenting references to '80s movies that squander any possible tension in the narrative. Readers never doubt whether the good guys will win because they’re constantly reminded: good guys always win in the movies. A hackneyed sci-fi spectacle.

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Publishers Weekly

Below average
on Jun 19 2015

The plot holes get harder to ignore as the conclusion approaches, but the book’s beginning offers glimpses of Cline’s significant potential.

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Blog Critics

Above average
Reviewed by Matt Margolis on Jul 09 2015

...make no mistake, Armada is a great story, and if you appreciate 80s culture and gaming, this novel is certainly for you. Is it the phenomenon that Ready Player One was? No. As long as you don’t expect it to be, you won’t be disappointed

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NPR

Below average
Reviewed by Tasha Robinson on Jul 14 2015

A major problem with Armada is that all these characters sound alike — that is, they're all versions of Cline. Regardless of age, nationality or walk of life, they all share the same fandoms.

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Star Tribune

Above average
Reviewed by Tobias Carroll on Jul 11 2015

In the end, what makes “Armada” most compelling isn’t its twistier-than-expected plot; instead, it’s the balance between concept and consequence.

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Examiner

Excellent
Reviewed by Heather Maloney on Jul 14 2015

Ernest Cline’s ability to weave a Science Fiction story with both excitement and nostalgia is unmatched. He continues his use of 70’s and 80’s references to ground an amazingly fantastical story into the real world and brings it to life.

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Examiner

Excellent
Reviewed by David Musto on Jul 12 2015

Cline is the literary answer to Joss Whedon or J.J. Abrams. He inspires a geeky admiration for his stories through sheer expression of his own unbridled passion and enthusiasm for his subject matter.

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Globe and Mail

Below average
Reviewed by Zack Kotzer on Aug 07 2015

Geek know-how doesn’t serve any similar purpose in Armada. At best, it maps the novel’s grand conspiracy that Space Invaders and Star Wars were government propaganda for a coming alien war (which is strange, because interplanetary xenophobia was never my takeaway from A New Hope).

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AV Club

Below average
Reviewed by Samantha Nelson on Jul 13 2015

Plenty of the references and geeky arguments in Armada are hilarious...But put against such a lackluster backdrop, they can’t drive the novel the way they did in Ready Player One. Instead they make Armada feel even more like a failed attempt to recapture the cleverness of Cline’s debut.

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Dallas News

Below average
Reviewed by David LaBounty on Jul 24 2015

It’s a mildly entertaining story delivered in passable prose, little more than a chance to indulge in fantasy casting while we wait for its big-screen debut.

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BookPage

Above average
Reviewed by Cat Acree on Jul 13 2015

It’s big fun, especially if your idea of fun is sitting around watching your friends play video games while discussing important theories like Sting vs. Mjolnir.

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Open Letters Monthly

Below average
Reviewed by Justin Hickey on Aug 11 2015

These references not only fail to conjure the era in any effective or attractive way, but they also undermine Cline’s attempts at actual writing.

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20Something Reads

Below average
Reviewed by Curtis Edmonds on Jul 17 2015

ARMADA is a perfectly commendable science fiction adventure that ultimately knows too much about its genre and itself to shed its native cynicism and reach the transcendent enlightenment that so often comes with blowing up the big alien mothership in the last reel.

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Slate

Below average
Reviewed by Laura Hudson on Aug 24 2014

Take away the shoutouts and the plot points borrowed wholesale from far better works of science fiction, and the story in Armada doesn't just fall apart—it doesn't exist at all.

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Jacksonville.com

Above average
Reviewed by C.F. Foster on Aug 08 2015

Although the plot is forced and predictable, aficionados (both gamers and science fiction fans) will find the endless cultural references a winning test.

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SFFWorld.com

Below average
Reviewed by Mark Chitty on Jul 16 2015

I know I’ve been negative of Armada during this review, though it truly isn’t a bad novel, not by a long shot. It is, however, far from the greatness displayed within the pages of Ready Player One.

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Fantasy Literature

Above average
Reviewed by STUART STAROSTA on Jul 21 2015

Overall, Armada is an entertaining story for anyone who likes video games, 80’s trivia, alien invasions, extensive space and ground combat sequences, a wise-cracking teenager protagonist, and plucky gamer buddies.

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Journal Sentinel

Above average
Reviewed by Carole E. Barrowman on Jul 10 2015

In "Armada," the plot's net is visible — a weaving of Nick Castle's film "The Last Starfighter" and Orson Scott Card's novel "Ender's Game." And while "Ready Player One" has a literate density I found quite brilliant, "Armada's" layers are more accessible to a wider population of readers, and I appreciated that too.

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Boing Boing

Good
Reviewed by MAGGIE TOKUDA-HALL on Jul 27 2015

It’s a joyous, rollicking read. But it’s also a sneaky discussion on xenophobia, miscommunication and what real courage is.

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Geeks of Doom

Below average
Reviewed by Henchman21 on Jul 20 2015

The story has some enjoyable and affecting moments, but it is let down by a preponderance of overly explained and sometimes repetitive references.

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io9

Below average
Reviewed by Germain Lussier on Jul 14 2015

...everything that happens in 345 pages of Armada feels like something that would’ve happened in three chapters of Ready Player One. The immense detail and explanation adds to your understanding of the themes and character, but they also make an otherwise simple story feel bloated.

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SF Crow's Nest

Above average
Reviewed by John Rivers on Jul 17 2015

...even though I might wince at a reference to ‘Galaxy Quest’. I did read all of ‘Armada’ in one day and find it hard to deny that it is a page-turner. You get swept up in it.

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SciFiNow

Above average
Reviewed by Jack Parsons on Jul 16 2015

With an emphasis on father-and-son relationships and coming of age, we would recommend Armada to adolescent readers, but grown-up geeks may want to look elsewhere.

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Chron

Above average
Reviewed by Jeff Ayers on Jul 13 2015

Cline's voice for Zack makes the reader believe a high school senior with a love of video games and sci-fi television and films is narrating the story. And love of popular culture isn't necessary to enjoy this amazing novel.

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Big Shiny Robot

Above average
Reviewed by Dagobot on Jul 14 2015

I have heard a bunch of negative chatter about 'Armada' being wish fulfillment. Of course it is, but it's such harmless wish fulfillment. I could no more hate this book than I could hate an enthusiastic puppy.

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The Verge

Below average
Reviewed by Dieter Bohn on Jul 14 2015

The 12-year-old version of me would have really loved this novel. But the 12-year-old version of me existed 25 years ago, in the American-centric suburban white geek culture that infuses every corner of Armada. For today’s 12-year-olds, I have to wonder if the Star Wars, Queen, and Robotech references are really going to be worth the effort.

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Propeller Quarterly

Above average
Reviewed by Ethan DeWeese on Aug 22 2015

When I read Ernest Cline’s books, I understand the gaming references and the characters’ motivations, and I enjoy this. Cline’s main audience is probably middle school readers or teens.

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Book Loons

Above average
Reviewed by Hilary Williamson on Jul 27 2015

It's an enthralling coming-of-age adventure that gives nods to Ender's Game and The Last Starfighter, but follows its own drummer.

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https://www.bostonglobe.com

Below average
Reviewed by Ethan Gilsdorf on Jul 30 2015

Suffice it to say, any savvy YA-level reader can see the by-the-numbers plot twists coming a light-year, I mean, a parsec away (but probably will miss most of the allusions). Meanwhile, “Armada” will bore most 40- and 50-somethings otherwise lured by all the retro pop-culture detritus.

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Badass Book Reviews

Above average
Reviewed by Wendy on Jul 27 2015

I woke up thinking about the ending this morning even after completing the book. Armada won’t go down as one of my favorites, and there were definitely some issues that I had sporadically while reading, (like one part at the end), but it was still so much fun.

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https://www.washingtonpost.com

Below average
Reviewed by Sonny Bunch on Aug 06 2015

"Reamde” and T’Rain help us understand the world, help us make sense of our place in a globalized order. “Armada” and Armada, on the other hand, simply hope to convince us that those of us who have spent our lives voraciously consuming pop culture haven’t wasted the precious few years they’ve been given.

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Reading Reality

Above average
Reviewed by MARLENE HARRIS on Jul 13 2015

In spite of its flaws, Zack’s story is like a dream come true for all of us who are still waiting for Scotty to beam us up.

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Raging Biblioholism

Good
Reviewed by Drew on Jun 29 2015

4.5 out of 5. I mean, we don’t walk out of blockbusters saying “hey, I really loved the emotional development in the third act.” No, we walk out talking about the jokes or the action sequences or the cool twist on an old theme – and that’s what you’re going to be talking about after you read Armada.

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The Reading Date

Excellent
Reviewed by Andrew on Jul 23 2015

With knowing winks towards countless space-battle movies, books, and games (some identified and some not), this is a real feast for the sci-fi enthusiast. But its story is human enough to be accessible to all readers, and to me felt YA-friendly.

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Annette's Book Spot

Above average
Reviewed by Annette on Jul 27 2015

While I didn't like Armada as much as Ready Player One, I would still recommend it to fans of the genre. The tension builds nicely, and the ending is satisfying. The characters are a bit thin, but the action is what's important.

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Bite the Book

Good
on Jul 24 2015

Mixing an 80s soundtrack with some of the best sci-fi movies and video games of the last thirty years Ernest Cline has created an action-adventure story worthy of the movies he references, even down to the slightly cheesy ending.

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Cuddle Buggery Book Blog

Above average
Reviewed by Meg Morley on Jul 08 2015

I worry that this is coming across like the cons outweigh the pros and I would like to stress again, Armada is a really fun book to read, you just kind of have to dial your critical brain down a notch.

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Lost in a Great Book

Above average
on Jul 27 2015

Either way, there is no doubting that this is a tremendously fun follow-up to Ready, Player One, and fans of that book (and the many cultural references within) will undoubtedly enjoy this one just as much. I know that I did for sure.

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The Speculative Scotsman

Above average
Reviewed by Niall Alexander on Jul 21 2015

For all its faults, Armada is at the least an enjoyable romp. Sparse as they are, its action scenes are awesome. Its secondary characters, slight though they may be, are immediately appealing.

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Book Nut

Above average
on Jul 08 2015

I won't give away too much more of the plot except to say this: it took a while to get into it, but I was glad I kept with it. I liked the direction that Cline took it in the end. A good read.

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A Glass of Wine

Above average
on Jul 28 2015

While I didn't fall as in love with this novel as I expected to, I still appreciated it for what it is. Ernest Cline captures the love of the classic alien movies, the gamer culture.

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Emilie's Book World

Above average
Reviewed by Emilie on Jul 22 2015

Though Ernest Cline’s Armada isn’t necessarily something I would pick up on my own, I found myself really enjoying the story. The plot and the characters both drew me in and the action kept me on the edge of my seat while I was reading. And now I need to go read Ready Player One.

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Reading Glutton

Good
Reviewed by Paul Mastin on Jul 10 2015

Fans of Ready Player One, sci-fi movie lovers, and gamers will love Armada. But the appeal is certainly broader than that.

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Pat's Fantasy Hotlist

Above average
Reviewed by Patrick on Jun 29 2015

Armada could have been a terrific novel. One of the very best speculative fiction titles of 2015, no question. Yet the poor ending makes it merely a good one. Still well worth a read, though.

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https://sfbook.com

Good
Reviewed by Antony Jones on Aug 11 2015

Its a book of two halves...While you could say this about many books, with Armada its so obvious that you can actually see the switch. Even so, Armada is a highly rewarding journey...

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Fourth Street Review

Above average
on Jul 18 2015

I liked it and if you choose to read it, I hope you do too. If you want to read about a teenage boy defending our planet – always a good time – grab a copy.

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http://nerdist.com

Good
Reviewed by Rachael Berkey on Jul 13 2015

In the end, I have to say you should run out and grab this book as soon as it’s available. It’s a perfect addition to your beach bag, and it will keep you satisfied...

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Lauren Reads YA

Good
on Aug 16 2015

Recommended for fans of video games, pop culture references, space, and conspiracy theories. This book must be heaven for hardcore gamers.

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http://thebookmonsters.com

Good
Reviewed by Kristen on Aug 11 2015

And the plot, I don’t want to give any spoilers, so I’ll just say I loved the twists and turns and the somewhat conspiratorial nature of Armada. I felt like I was along for the ride of a lifetime and loved every second of this book.

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Sense of Wonder

Good
on Jul 17 2015

At once gleefully embracing and brilliantly subverting science-fiction conventions as only Ernest Cline could, Armada is a rollicking, surprising thriller, a classic coming of age adventure, and an alien invasion tale like nothing you've ever read before...

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https://gonepecanla.wordpress.com

Excellent
Reviewed by Kristina on Jul 01 2015

Armada is everything I could have hoped it to be and more and I look forward to a re-read when I can get my hands on the audio with Wil Wheaton (as if this whole situation couldn’t have gotten any more epic or nerdier.) So I guess the only thing left to ask is how quickly can we get another book?

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Reader Rating for Armada
63%

An aggregated and normalized score based on 2231 user ratings from iDreamBooks & iTunes


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