on July 14th 2015
Narrator: Wil Wheaton
Genres: Fiction, Science Fiction
Source: Audible, Owned
Buy on Amazon (affiliate link)
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.