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Book Review

‘Armada’

9/16/2015

Ernest Cline’s first book, “Ready Player One,” became an instant classic in the speculative fiction world, winning awards and praise nearly across the board. His newest novel, “Armada,” takes the retro-futuristic vibe of his first book and adds in a more complex voice with an uncannily realistic near future. Once again, Cline manages to enthrall readers with pop-culture references — this time videogames instead of the ’80s — an everyman hero and world-shaking consequences.

By Ernest Cline 368 pp Crown $26 July 14, 2015

By Ernest Cline
368 pp
Crown
$26
July 14, 2015

Zack Lightman is an average high school senior with an obsessive love of a particular science-fiction video game. Nearly anyone with a gamer background will immediately recognize his passion for digital entertainment. His skill at this worldwide phenomenon of a game brings him to the attention of the creators of the game, a secret military organization who is using it to train soldiers for an incoming alien invasion.

Sounds familiar doesn’t it? “Ender’s Game,” “The Last Starfighter,” and many other science fiction works come into play in the context of the story, as secret propaganda put out by this shadowy group to prepare the world’s population for the eventual war. Zach, who has spent his 18 years absorbed in the habits and passions of his dead father (most particularly, videogames, loud music and ’80s movies), finally starts to come of age as he transitions from aimless teenager to battle-hardened warrior. Raised by a single mother with some mad gaming skills of her own and joined by his friends and the only girl who seems to get his references, Zach must transfer his skills from his imagination into the real world, just like his favorite characters. CV

Julie is a collector of temporary tattoos, hopeless art supplies and vacuum cleaners. She currently lives in the wild places of West Des Moines. She knows she should be herself, but she’d rather be Batman.

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