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I have been waiting for Armada for what seems like forever. I got Ready Player One for Christmas in 2014 and absolutely loved it. Devoured it, even. I’d been meaning to buy Armada for myself for months (it was on pretty much all of my most anticipated lists throughout the year), so I was thrilled when I got it for Christmas in 2015. I had some other books to finish up first, but started it just as soon as I could.

Now, the first thing you need to know about Armada is that it’s not Ready Player One. It’s just not. It’s sort of similar, what with the nerdy main character, the constant pop culture references, and the overall feel of the writing, but if you’re expecting the same kind of magical experience (assuming you loved Ready Player One as much as I did), you’re going to be disappointed.

This is a different sort of book.

In it, Zack Lightman is obsessed with Armada, an online multiplayer video game that simulates battle against an alien invasion. He’s so obsessed that he’s not even really surprised when he starts hallucinating the aliens’ battle ships in his everyday life. Time to take a break from Armada, he thinks. But then one of the ships lands, and he’s recruited for the Earth Defense Alliance, the same government organization featured in his video games. It turns out that the EDA has been monitoring high scores from their video games, which were specifically developed with the goal of training ordinary citizens in combat.

It’s all a little unreal, but it’s a fun ride.

The book starts off a little slow, held up by a slew of incessant pop culture references. This is unsurprising after their prominent place in the plot of RPO, but it was a little much, even for a pop culture fanatic like myself. The book references a lot of 80’s movies, and, as a whole, definitely gives off an 80’s sci-fi movie vibe.

The plot itself is kind of weak, and the answers to the questions are not logical whatsoever. But that’s okay – because even Zack mentions this as he’s learning what’s happening. Don’t take it too seriously and you’ll probably enjoy it.

Final rating: 3.5 stars, rounded up to 4.

For my 2016 reading challenge, I’m crossing off #20: a science fiction book.

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