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Armada – Ernest Cline Review

armada-ernest-clineReleased: July 2015

Zack Lightman is busy trying to daydream his way through a Maths class when he thinks he spots a flying spaceship hovering just outside the classroom window. In fact he is certain he has seen a spaceship hovering outside the classroom window. And this is not just any old spaceship. This is one of the enemy spaceships he regularly comes up against when playing his favourite videogame, Armada, each night.

Zack hasn’t had the easiest start to life as his father was killed in an accident when Zack was still small. Zack and his mother have found it hard to let go of his father’s memory though. They have kept all his dad’s old things and Zack has spent many hours trawling through the old journals and notes about various videogames and conspiracy theories. Once Zack has seen the flying spaceship he begins to think maybe his father’s conspiracy theories were correct all along. He doesn’t have to wait long to find out because within 24 hours the world has come under attack and it’s up to Zack and hundreds of other expert gamers like him to save the planet.

Conspiracy theories and references to all the familiar tropes and storylines, that have been pedalled out in science fiction movies over the years, abound in this playful account of a teenage geek’s dream scenario. Not only does Zack get the chance to prove himself as a genius who can save the planet rather than a useless gaming fanatic, he also gets the opportunity to meet the woman of his dreams.

It’s difficult to say too much about the story without spoiling it, so I’ll just say that it has all the makings of an excellent film. If you love the eighties, conspiracy theories and science fiction then you’ll love this. Unfortunately I did often feel as though I was reading a screenplay script complete with the soundtrack rather than a story. That isn’t surprising in itself as Ernest Cline has written many screenplays but I did feel that sometimes the story could have had a little more heart and depth of feeling. That said I really loved the twists and turns in the very pacy plot, as well as the geeky characters of Zack and his friends and the utterly surprising ending.

Ernest Cline’s last book, Ready Player One, is currently being turned into a movie by Steven Spielberg. I suspect that Armada will soon be following hot on its successful heels.

★★★

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