Review: Armada by Ernest Cline

by Ernest Cline
Narrated by Wil Wheaton
Series: None
Genre: Military Science Fiction
Setting: Beaverton, Oregon; Nebraska; space; dark side of the moon
Published by Crown Publishing, 2015 (Penguin Random House Audio Publishing Group, 2015)
Audiobook, Library
368 pages
11 hours, 49 minutes
Grade: B+
Narrator grade: A-
Synopsis: 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?

At once gleefully embracing and brilliantly subverting science-fiction conventions as only Ernest Cline could, Armada is a rollicking, surprising thriller, a classic coming of age adventure, and an alien invasion tale like nothing you’ve ever read before—one whose every page is infused with the pop-culture savvy that has helped make Ready Player One a phenomenon

“Shit!” I heard Diehl shout over the comm. “I just lost my gorram shields because I’m already out of frakkin’ power!”
“Dude,” Cruz said. “You shouldn’t mix swears from different universes.”


If there were other civilizations out there, why would they ever want to make contact with humanity? If this was how we treated each other, how much kindness could we possibly show to some race of bug-eyed beings from beyond?


  • I loved this book! I love military sci-fi and space opera and this had some of both in the book.
  • What person who reads science fiction or fantasy hasn’t daydreamed about some of their books really being true?
  • I know this book uses ideas from Ender’s Game and The Last Starfighter, but I don’t care. This is a fun science fiction.
  • I really like Wil Wheaton’s narration.
  • I also like the video game player as the gateway to military war training. The military really has used video games to lure fighter pilots and others into the military.
  • I don’t play video games much anymore, but when my husband and I were dating we played video games together. One of the bars we went to had a table console with a space invaders game! We had lots of fun with that.
  • This is an entertaining and fun “shoot-em-up” book, but it also has ideas worth thinking about.
  • Zack seems to be the only one asking why the aliens would be so obvious. Why the battles already fought go exactly like a video game. No one else seems to think that’s strange. By the end of the book after everything is wrapped up neatly Zack still is suspicious. Someone needs to ask questions!
  • Zack Lightman–a great name for a video game hero or real hero!
  • The use of drones is very realistic.
  • Conspiracy theories–that’s exactly what would happen!


  • Why does everyone seem to accept the alien’s motives at face value?

And a few thoughts . . .

  • I thought this has room for a sequel which would be fun to read!
  • I look forward to whatever Ernest Cline is writing in the future.

Have you read this book? How did you like it?

Author info

  • Ernest Cline is a novelist, screenwriter and self-confessed geek. This is his second novel after the very successful Ready Player One.

Reading Challenges

  • 2015 Goodreads Challenge
  • Audiobook Challenge–hosted by Hot Listens and The Book Nympho blogs
  • Library Challenge–hosted by Sheila @ the Book Journey blog
  • Ultimate Reading Challenge–hosted by the Popsugar blog (a book set in high school–at least the beginning is in high school)