by Ernest Cline
3/7 stars
[mild spoilers]

On the whole, I found this book under-whelming. I will fully admit that I had high expectations of Cline after Ready Player One. Cline’s first novel was well thought out, written, and executed. I would highly recommend that any nerd read it. Armada, however, I could take or leave.

In Ready Player One, the 80’s nostalgia had a point. It was central to the plot that people could out nerd each other. In Armada, it was not only not relevant, it was highly distracting. The 80’s references were there, but they made little sense. Sure, my friends and I try to out reference each other, but a major part of that is not telling the others what the reference is; they should just know. Sure, you can ask, but that means that you lose.

But in Armada, every single reference is explained. It felt like not only the characters but the audience was assumed to have no nerd cred whatsoever. Unfortunately, a good deal of the book was comprised of references, so this was not a minor nitpick to me.

As to the writing, I was a little disappointed. When I read a book, I try to predict what’s going to happen. I generally don’t expect to be right. Plot should not, in my opinion, be easy to determine. I like to be surprised. None of the plot twists were actually surprising. In fact, I was accurate in pre-determining every single major plot point. While it’s good for my ego to be as smart as the author, it doesn’t make for good reading.

Now for the mildly spoiler-y part. The aliens that are in the book are meant to be hyper intelligent. Why, then, are their methods incomprehensibly and transparently stupid? The interactions with the human race did not make any rational sense and they were supposed to be the most rational of beings.

All in all, I don’t think I’d recommend this book. If you want a book about aliens or first contact, I can suggest several other volumes to you.

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