I Read a Book About Aliens: Armada

Full disclosure: I received a copy of this book from Penguin Random House of Canada in exchange for an honest review.

When Ready Player One came out, I did not read it. A librarian friend of mine told me about it and said that my husband would probably really like it. He did – he devoured it like I’ve rarely seen him devour a book. Then he started recommending it to other people (who all also loved it) before lending out his copy and never seeing it again.

To be honest, I wasn’t planning on ever reading it. Science fiction, video games? Not my thing. I was able to participate in Duck Hunt and my brother enjoyed using me to get better at Wave Runner but mostly, I was reading.

So you’ll be surprised to find that I just finished reading Ernest Cline’s second novel, Armada. And that I kind of loved it.

I’m sure part of that has to do with the fact that the only expectation I had of this book was that it would be light hearted fun. I wasn’t looking for it to live up to any expectations of greatness as I might have if I had read Ready Player One first.


Zack Lightman is a couple of months shy of graduation. He has a part time job at a video game store but no plans for the future. The only thing that he’s really good at is playing Armada, a first person video game that has him piloting a spacecraft in a war against an alien species threatening the world as we know it. Zack is one of the top 10 pilots in the entire game so when it turns out that the game is actually a sophisticated military training program and aliens really are coming to attack Earth, Zack is among the first to be recruited to fight.

I kind of feel like any story where the human race is fighting in space against aliens is going to have an element of kitsch to it. And that certainly applies here. But it didn’t bother me, it made me laugh. I don’t think this book takes itself too seriously and that made it a really fun read for me. I’m not a gamer, I don’t always get Star Wars references, or understand the science behind any of this and I still really enjoyed this book. I thought it was clever and fun and I couldn`t wait to get back to reading it whenever I had to put it down.

And now I have Ready Player One to look forward to. As soon as we buy a replacement copy…

What books did you take a chance on that you ended up loving?

13 thoughts on “I Read a Book About Aliens: Armada

  1. I feel the same as you – when I hear what his books are about I think they’re not for me. But, from what you say, I would probably like them anyway. They do sound like fun.
    Oh, I wish I could remember the books I have taken a chance on and loved, because I know there are some, and it’s the best feeling.The most recent one I can think of is my first Erik Larsen. Loved it.

    • I think a lot of that is because I wasn’t expecting anything from it, except a fun read.
      Erik Larson is sublime. I’m so glad you finally took the plunge – and now you have so many other books of his to get to read.

  2. Wait–this was a movie in the 80s. A kid from some podunk town who was the top game player was recruited by an alien to fight aliens. I think Ally Sheedy played the love interest.

    • The story wasn’t familiar to me but I just did a quick google and I think the movie you’re thinking of is WarGames. Except that instead of aliens, a hacker thinks he’s playing a video game but ends up almost starting WWIII.
      But really, all movies/books like this are going to be similar. I just went with it.

  3. I’ve heard some mixed things about this book, so I’m glad to hear you liked it! I think Ready Player One is going to be my next audiobook; like you, it doesn’t sound like something I’d enjoy, but so many people have raved about it! Sometimes it pays to step outside your comfort zone.

    • I think the people that read Ready Player One first were probably expecting something on the same level and it might not reach that. I was glad to go in without any real expectations – except that maybe a lot of it would be over my head. Happily, it wasn’t. I actually felt like I belonged in that world, temporarily.

  4. I just can’t decide about this one. I keep reading that Ready Player One is an amazing audiobook – and then I remember I never actually listen to audio. Some day maybe

  5. The Twilight books were the chance I took. I’m not saying they were great writing or anything, but entertaining enough. I don’t do horror or monsters and after so many students telling me they aren’t scary monster books, I read Twilight and then the rest. With the cultural aspect of it and the story parallels to things like Romeo and Juliet, I’m glad I read them.

  6. Pingback: Better Late Than Never: 2015 in Review | The Paperback Princess

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