Saturday, September 26, 2015

Book review: "Armada" by Ernest Cline

Encapsulate the plot of this book in one sentence.

An eighteen-year-old boy is called upon to utilize the skills gained during countless hours of video-gaming playing to save the world from an impending alien destruction.

When and where did you get this book?

I got this book from the local Barnes and Noble in July of 2015.

What year or edition?

First edition (2015), hardback.

Did you finish it?

Yes!

What's your verdict?

This book is definitely worth reading if you liked the style and content of "Ready Player One".  I enjoyed this book but it didn't engage me the same way "Ready Player One" did.  I will almost certainly read it again, especially if a sequel is written.

What surprises did it hold, if any?

There was a subtext that was introduced fairly early on that I was surprised to see used in separate layers.  That's the best way I can say it without spoiling too much. :-)

Which scenes will stay with you?

[SPOILER ALERT!]
There's a scene where a group of people are watching a video introducing the alien opposition.  The video is narrated by Carl Sagan, who (along with other leading scientists) had been part of a government cover-up to keep the knowledge of the aliens secret.  This secret is held into perpetuity by the leaders of the scientific community, spearheaded by Neil deGrasse Tyson currently.

With both of Ernest Cline's books, I've found myself suspending disbelief quite a bit in order to fully submerge and enjoy the world he's creating.  In retrospect, I found this to be particularly offensive.  It's preposterous that the leaders of the scientific community would withhold knowledge of one of the greatest discoveries in human history, regardless of the manner in which it was discovered.  It's a fundamental tenet of science.

Which characters will stay with you?

You would hope is was Zack, the main character.  However, aside from the fact that he's involved in every scene, he's not nearly as memorable as Lex, his love interest.  We first meet her in the auditorium where a group of people have been gathered for a briefing.  She's sitting alone, near the top, drinking from a flask painted like R2-D2.  She's immediately identified as an all-around bad-ass, dressed in black, tattooed, and having hacked the techno-gadget she'd been given.  She subsequently proves her bad-assery on multiple occasions, acting almost like a deus ex machina.

Plus, she's from Austin.  :-)

What genre would you say it is?

Science fiction, with a bit of nostalgia thrown in for extra bonus.

Have you read anything else by this author?

Yes.  "Ready Player One", which I feel I can recommend to anyone that grew up in the 80's or at least has a fondness for the decade.

Is it available today?

Yes, although I don't think the paperback has been produced yet.

Give me a good quote.

There are actually several pretty good quotes.  Here's a sampling.

     "Shit!" I heard Diehl shout over the comm. "I just lost my gorram shields because I'm already out of frakkin' power!"
     "Dude," Cruz said. "You shouldn't mix swears from different universes."

     "That’s how you know you’ve mastered a videogame—when a bunch of butt-hurt crybabies start to accuse you of cheating in an effort to cope with the beatdown they’ve just suffered at your hands."

     I rolled my eyes.  "I find it hard to believe that you were ever a Girl Scout."
     Her eyes narrowed, then she reached out and rolled down her striped knee sock, revealing a dark green Girl Scouts of America logo tattooed on her left calf.
     "I stand corrected," I said.  "Are you hiding any other cool tattoos?"
     She punched me in the shoulder -- hard -- then pointed at the flask, still in my hand.  "Quit stalling, baby face.  Bottoms up."

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