Author: Ernest Cline
Publisher: Crown Publishing
Genre: Science Fiction, Fantasy, Adventure
Release Date: July 14th 2015
Page Count: 349
Back in May, a couple of months after I first started this blog, I was summoned to go through the jury selection process. As most know, this process can take quite some time and even after days of sitting in a room, you may not even be selected as a member of a jury. Knowing how intricate and time consuming the process is, I knew I needed to take a book with me to pass the time. That book just so happened to be Ready Player One by Ernest Cline. I was completely hooked and Ready Player One easily became one of my favourite novels of all time. Soon after finishing it, I heard that Ernest Cline was going to be releasing another novel later in the year titled Armada, and you better believe I pre-ordered it right then and there.
The hype surrounding Armada was huge as so many readers fell in love with Ready Player One. As is to be expected, once Armada was released, it was relentlessly compared to Ready Player One which resulted in average ratings. Readers expected so much from this novel and I think that is where the problem lies. When we compare a book to another that we loved so much, our expectations are set too high which results in disappointment.
This is why I’m going to keep my comparisons between Armada and Ready Player One short and brief. Remember that wonderful sense of 80’s nostalgia created within the world of Ready Player One? You can once again find that nostalgia and the 80’s inspired quotes and dialogue within Armada, although this time around some of it felt a little forced as if Ernest Cline knew that was what readers would be expecting so he tried to include as much of it as he could. The nostalgic references flowed more seamlessly in Ready Player One. There was also less attention to detail this time around and things started to move at quite a fast pace. I’m usually a fan of stories that move quickly, but it felt as though something was missing. This being said, I knew going into this novel that I couldn’t expect everything to be exactly like Ready Player One and I accepted that. This is a brand new story in a completely different world and it needs to be treated that way, as hard as that may be.
I am well aware of the comparisons that have been made between Armada and other stories within pop culture, whether it be film, television or other novels. I understand that for most readers, elements of this story didn’t feel particularly unique and creative. I also understand how frustrating that can be, however, I am one of the few who had never seen or read anything that Armada was being compared to which made it a unique story line for me. I understand that doesn’t excuse the fact that the story had a lack of creativity, but it was because of this that I was probably able to enjoy the novel more than others were.
I thought that the level of adventure was great and the world that the story takes place in was well developed. The layers of the story weren’t as intricate as I had hoped, but it was still fun and entertaining regardless. As much as I loved the idea behind the story and the adventure that took place, I found that the characters weren’t as well developed as I would have liked them to be. Our main character, Zack Lightman was the only one who was described with a decent amount of detail, but even that wasn’t enough for me. Not to mention the abundance of side characters. They could have been explored in other, more detailed ways that could have provided us with even a little bit of a backstory. Unfortunately, a lot of the characters fell flat.
As I stated earlier, this story was quite fast paced and made certain moments feel rushed. Unfortunately, the ending fell victim to this problem. On top of feeling rushed, it felt out of place. Once again, I wish things were explained with much more detail rather than leaving the reader hanging and responsible for coming up with their own explanations regarding the mysteries that the ending plagued us with. That’s about as vague as I can get without venturing into spoiler-ville.
I still quite enjoy the writing style of Ernest Cline and I think Armada had a lot of potential, but it just seemed like there was a lot missing from this story and it wasn’t executed as well as it could have been. I wanted so badly to learn even more about Zack’s father and the details surrounding what happened to him. I wanted my unanswered questions to be acknowledged, especially towards the end of the novel. I was hoping for an intricately woven story, but sadly, that just wasn’t the case.