Zach loves to play video games. In particular, Armada, a flight simulation game where aliens are invading the earth. He's become very good at the game, and is ranked sixth among all players.
Everything changes when Zach sees a flying saucer out the school window. He believes he is going crazy. He's starting to think like his deceased father, who left notebooks about how he believed aliens ARE coming to earth to destroy us and that video games and science fiction stories are being created to prepare humans for the attack.
The following day, an aircraft, right out of Armada, comes to Zach's school to recruit him to be in the Earth Defense Alliance, a secret army that has designed video games to ferret out people who can actually pilot the drones that must defend the earth from a very real threat from an alien life form.
Comparisons to Ender's Game are inevitable and correct. But Armada strands on its own as well. Also, comparisons to Ready Player One must be considered. There are just as many references to cultural icons, although not necessarily from the 80s, and most of them are science fiction related.
I won't say too much more about the plot. Zach and his friends are thrown into the fire, and their daunting task turns out to be pretty exciting. Suspension of disbelief is necessary, but given the premise that's expected. I did think the beginning took a while to get exciting -- LOTS of technical talks about gaming that at times had me skimming.
While I didn't like Armada as much as Ready Player One, I would still recommend it to fans of the genre. The tension builds nicely, and the ending is satisfying. The characters are a bit thin, but the action is what's important.
Published by Crown, July 14, 2015
eARC obtained from Edelweiss
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