“Zack Lightman has spent his life dreaming. Dreaming that the real world could be a little more like the countless science-fiction books, movies, and videogames he’s spent his life consuming. Dreaming that one day, some fantastic, world-altering event will shatter the monotony of his humdrum existence and whisk him off on some grand space-faring adventure.
But hey, there’s nothing wrong with a little escapism, right? After all, Zack tells himself, he knows the difference between fantasy and reality. He knows that here in the real world, aimless teenage gamers with anger issues don’t get chosen to save the universe.
And then he sees the flying saucer.
Even stranger, the alien ship he’s staring at is straight out of the videogame he plays every night, a hugely popular online flight simulator called Armada—in which gamers just happen to be protecting the earth from alien invaders.
No, Zack hasn’t lost his mind. As impossible as it seems, what he’s seeing is all too real. And his skills—as well as those of millions of gamers across the world—are going to be needed to save the earth from what’s about to befall it.
It’s Zack’s chance, at last, to play the hero. But even through the terror and exhilaration, he can’t help thinking back to all those science-fiction stories he grew up with, and wondering: Doesn’t something about this scenario seem a little…familiar?”
One can’t help but to draw comparison between Armada and Ready Player One. Armada is a fine book in its own right but it didn’t flow as nicely as RPO and the pop culture references felt a bit forced without the lead-in exposition that readers got from RPO. In Ready Player One the general population’s obsession with 80’s pop culture stems from the hunt for the Egg, a connective foundation missing from Armada which makes the fan boy interactions between some of the characters awkward to read. A bit more development from protagonist Zack Lightman would have made the entire story that much more compelling as well. Tell us about these anger management issues he’s struggling with. Why should we care that he got in some trouble in middle school? Show us his struggle to overcome his internal demons with more depth than the limp love story we got shoehorned instead. Overall Armada is a good read if not great, just keep in mind that it is not a sequel to Ready Player One and doesn’t even share a universe with it.