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.
When Zack sees the spaceship during math class he is excited until he realizes that it is a Glaive fighter. Glaive fighters are enemy ships in his favorite video game, Armada. Now he knows he is going insane. This isn’t the first time he’s thought about his mental health. Zack’s father died when he was 19 and Zack was 1. Zack has spent his whole life watching his father’s VHS tapes and listening to his music. He has also read his notebooks, one of which contains a paranoid theory that he was formulating before his death. Zack’s father thought that the increase in alien invasion stories in movies and video games since the 1970s was part of a government conspiracy to prepare the Earth for an encounter with hostile aliens. It sounded like the rantings of an unstable mind to Zack and he’s worried that he might have inherited the same tendencies.
Now that he’s hallucinating Glaive fighters, he’s sure of it.
This author’s previous book Ready Player One is my all time favorite audio book. I was so excited when I heard that this one was coming out and that Wil Wheaton was doing the narration again. I had a few day delay between the publishing date and when I could start it. In that time I started seeing twitter messages pop up about people who loved Ready Player One abandoning this book. They said it was too geeky for them and they couldn’t get into it. I got scared.
I loved this book! It is a very different book from Ready Player One. Where that book delved deep into 80s pop culture, this one focuses on science fiction movies and video games. I know way more about the 80s than I do about video games but I was able to follow along with Armada just fine.
There is a long section in the beginning that serves to explain the game play of the game Armada and its companion game Terra Firma. This is a little slow if you aren’t a gamer but it is necessary information to understand the rest of the book.
Things I Loved
The story isn’t going where you thought it was. This isn’t a typical alien invasion story. Does the fact that you probably know what I mean by that indicate that Zac’s dad’s theory was right?
The characters are complex. No one is completely good or bad. People are capable of change and nuance.
The Raid The Arcade mix tape. Am I the only person who wants to make a copy of this playlist? The songs are listed at the end with the Bonus Track – Snoopy versus the Red Baron. That bonus track is not optional.
I absolutely LOVED the inscription on the headstone at the end. (There is a war. Lots of people die. I’m not saying whose headstone it is.) It is PERFECT and made me laugh and then have all the feels.
Wil Wheaton did a great job with the narration. In this book there are references to several famous voices and he did a very good job with them as well as the whole book. I think he adds a whole other dimension to the story so I’d recommend this one on audio over any other format.
The ending leaves open the possibility but not the necessity of a sequel. I’d love to hear what happens next.
About Ernest Cline
ERNEST CLINE is a novelist, screenwriter, father, and full-time geek. His first novel, Ready Player One, was a New York Times and USA Today bestseller, appeared on numerous “best of the year” lists, and is set to be adapted into a motion picture by Warner Bros. and director Steven Spielberg. Ernie lives in Austin, Texas, with his family, a time-traveling DeLorean, and a large collection of classic video games.
Three strangers, each isolated by his or her own problems: Adaora, the marine biologist. Anthony, the rapper famous throughout Africa. Agu, the troubled soldier. Wandering Bar Beach in Lagos, Nigeria's legendary mega-city, they're more alone than they've ever been before.But when something like a meteorite plunges into the ocean and a tidal wave overcomes them, these three people will find themselves bound together in ways they could never imagine. Together with Ayodele, a visitor from beyond the stars, they must race through Lagos and against time itself in order to save the city, the world... and themselves.
Something strange is happening off the coast of Lagos. The fish are changing. The water is changing. The oil isn’t flowing.
They’ve been having a bad night. Adaora’s increasingly irrationally jealous husband hit her. She fought back and was able to easily pin him to the ground. She fled to the beach. Anthony was doing a show but needed to clear his head so he went for a walk. Agu almost killed his fellow soldiers when they decided to rape a woman. He is running from retribution.
The three humans are brought together and then taken offshore. They return different and with a visitor.
First contact with an alien species doesn’t go well. Everyone has an angle. Adaora’s husband’s pastor wants to convert the aliens to his form of Christianity. Some people want to kidnap it for a huge ransom. The army wants to capture the aliens.
The aliens decide that they really don’t like humans.
I like the fact that the aliens don’t contact humans until after they’ve been in discussion with the animals in the ocean to see what would make them happy. Bats and spiders get enlightenment too but humans are a problem for them.
The humans are a problem for everyone. There is rioting after the aliens take over all communication to announce that they are here. With the city in chaos it is up to the humans who the aliens first contacted to show what humanity can be and it act as witnesses to what it will become.
The story is told from multiple points of view including people from all levels of society. There are wealthy people and prostitutes and pick pockets and church people. The city of Lagos comes across as an important character. The mythology of the area also plays a role and gives the story a bit of a folktale feel in addition to sci-fi.
Okorafor’s books aren’t hopeful about the future of humanity. Her characters are always surrounded by greed and evil and stupidity. The hope in her books comes from outside forces changing people to be better. The writing draws you into the story and keeps you engaged until the end.
There is also a quick The Gods Must Be Crazy reference that made me laugh out loud.
Public domain from NOAA
Imagine what the fish would become if they had their wildest desires granted!
A princess is dying from a mysterious illness. A young soul carrier has been found to take her soul from Norland to her homeland across the sea. But first the child must do a favor for the princess and retrieve a package that she has hidden. She is told that her highest priority is to get herself and the contents of the package back across the sea to the land of Tingawa that the princess came from.
Neighboring kingdoms are controlled by an evil family who have been trained as killers by a mysterious Old Dark Man. They have an absolute hatred of Tingawans. They will stop at nothing to make sure the soul carrier doesn’t make it to her ship alive.
Meanwhile the waters are rising. Eventually they will swamp all the land on Earth. Already villages have had to move to higher ground. While the people of Norland try to adapt to the changing landscape, the leaders of Tingawa and the Sea King have decided to plan for the eventual demise of the Earth.
This book is actually telling two different stories. The first is the story of the evil family and why they are trying to kill the Tingawans. That wasn’t that interesting to me. It covered the first part of the book and did drag. If it wasn’t for the fact that I love this author and that there is a sequel to this book now that I want to read I’d have stopped.
The second story is the plan for survival when there is no more land. This story I was interested in. I think this is the story that continues into the sequel. When the book got to this part it started to really move quickly for me.
I’m looking forward to reading Fish Tails to see what happens.
**I just looked it up on Goodreads to get that link and there are characters in there from a series that I have but that I haven’t read yet. Crap. It looks like she is tying together her entire lifetime of books into one big finale. Now I have read the others to properly appreciate it! **