Armada by Ernest Cline
My rating: 4 of 5 stars
So let's get it out of the way: Armada is a nostalgia trip wrapped up in old video games and science fiction movies designed to scratch a certain itch. It's not great literature, it's not for everyone, and it's impressively great at what it's trying to do. Ernest Cline has hit upon a certain type of mainstream retro storytelling, and it works.
Why, then, is everyone so down on this?
It's not Ready Player One, no. That was brilliant in ways this isn't, as this is more a straightforward Ender's Game-meets-The Last Starfighter as opposed to a blatant video game story. But it's not as if it was a betrayal of what is being tried here. I mean, what do people expect when they pick up this book that they didn't get? I don't get it at all. Is it the anti-gamer attitude permeating the science fiction fandom at present? Is it some other cultural touchstone I'm missing?
If you can put aside whatever baggage you might bring to the table, you'll know if you'll enjoy this before you even pick it up. If Ready Player One was transcendent, you'll love this. If you thought it was trash nostalgia, just skip this altogether. If you're in the middle, take it for the goofy action movie it is. Just leave your own stuff at the door.
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