Thursday, October 15, 2015

Armada - Ernest Cline

Armada - Ernest Cline - 368 pages

Armada is Cline's second novel, and follows closely in form and subject matter to his first (Ready Player One).  Lightman, a high school student with anger management issues, finds himself careening headfirst from the "real" world into an adventure most hardcore fans of everything geek only read about.  Alien squids are heading for Earth with vengeance inking out their slimy bottoms, and only the video game-inclined, armed with snacks, daddy issues, and top secret squid-derivative tech, can stop them.

Or can they?

Here's the thing: this book explodes like it has an alien in its chest with scads of sci-fi references from books, television, and films, but it also seriously lacks any real departure or plot structure that isn't directly derivative.  I wanted to LOVE this book like I LOVE the franchises it pulls material from, but many of the characters are one-dimensional and it tries too hard to be chic-ly meta.  I saw what Cline was trying to achieve here, and I think any reader familiar with sci-fi would, but he just didn't hit hard enough, early enough, or with enough originality to make it hurt so good.  It was a fun read, but I wanted more depth and less cliched references.

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