My rating: 4 of 5 stars
Armada follows Zachary Lightman who is your average teenaged nerd who has an unusual love for older video games. If you read Ready Player One then this sounds familiar right? This time Cline's main character is a prodigy at a game called Armada which is a star fighter simulator and his father is gone in a freak accident. He works at a dead end job at a video game store that is hemorrhaging money due to his boss not caring about his clientele. It turns out he's being recruited for something bigger and the fate of the world rests on his shoulders.
This second novel by Ernest Cline suffers from some of the same problems as Ready Player One, but they are magnified in this novel. All of the characters are, for the most part, too agreeable. The dialogue is filled with statements that show perfect empathy and consideration for how everyone else feels. In situations where there should be conflict, all of the characters do their best to avoid it. All of the characters essentially acting the same can be annoying. Armada fails to detract from this weakness where Ready Player One was able to minimize it.
Armada is also quite a bit more predictable than it's predecessor. While it provides a unique story and ups the ante quite a bit, the novel falls a few notches short of Ready Player One. The main difference in the stories is that one focuses on what is happening and the quest for something that seems impossible and the other focuses on the relationships of its characters. Cline does better when he pushes the characters through the story rather than crafting the story around the edges of the characters.
Armada is still an enjoyable read in the same vein of Ready Player One. Both are thick with video game and pop culture references that will give you a heavy dose of nostalgia for the 80's if you remember that era. I was solidly stuck between rating this 3 or 4. I rounded it up since I couldn't give it a 3.5 star rating.
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Current word count:42,136
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