I loved Ernest Cline’s first book, Ready Player One, and so I quickly moved to Armada since thematically it had similar undertones: computer game players as heroes, interspersed movie and cultural references masking as character dialogue, eighties nostalgia, and lost relationships haunting the present.
Cline has the corner on this flavor of the Gen X-flavored science-fiction.
In many ways, Armada was more enjoyable that Ready Player One. The story was more intimate, driven by the main character’s connection to his lost father. RPO had more surrogate stand-ins. Secondary characters with relationship issues that shadowed the story. Armada is really the story of a father and son.
The story was much more streamlined as well, which made for a quicker read although I’m not convinced this book was better. Armada felt like an easier read, something you’d take the beach and breeze through.
That’s not meant as a pejorative. Ready Player One was just a sprawling story that dove into infinite, digital worlds, and Armada really takes place in two locations (albeit with an invading alien force.)
Still, the story is particularly enjoyable if you happen to be in the target audience (GenX, game player, stepped in 80s and 90s pop culture). And hardly a page goes by without some buried reference (or Easter egg) from a one-popular piece of media.