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From the author of Ready Player One, a rollicking alien invasion thriller that embraces and subverts science-fiction conventions as only Ernest Cline could.Zack Lightman has never much cared for...
From the author of Ready Player One, a rollicking alien invasion thriller that embraces and subverts science-fiction conventions as only Ernest Cline could.Zack Lightman has never much cared for...
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  • From the author of Ready Player One, a rollicking alien invasion thriller that embraces and subverts science-fiction conventions as only Ernest Cline could.
    Zack Lightman has never much cared for reality. He vastly prefers the countless science-fiction movies, books, and video games he's spent his life consuming. And too often, he catches himself wishing that some fantastic, impossible, world-altering event could arrive to whisk him off on a grand space-faring adventure.
    So when he sees the flying saucer, he's sure his years of escapism have finally tipped over into madness.
    Especially because the alien ship he's staring at is straight out of his favorite video game, a flight simulator called Armada—in which gamers just happen to be protecting Earth from alien invaders.
    As impossible as it seems, what Zack's seeing is all too real. And it's just the first in a blur of revelations that will force him to question everything he thought he knew about Earth's history, its future, even his own life—and to play the hero for real, with humanity's life in the balance.
    But even through the terror and exhilaration, he can't help thinking: Doesn't something about this scenario feel a little bit like...well...fiction?
    At once reinventing and paying homage to science-fiction classics as only Ernest Cline can, Armada is a rollicking, surprising thriller, a coming-of-age adventure, and an alien invasion tale like nothing you've ever read before.



  • From the book 1

    I was staring out the classroom window and daydreaming of adventure when I spotted the flying saucer.

    I blinked and looked again—but it was still out there, a shiny chrome disc zigzagging around in the sky. My eyes struggled to track the object through a series of increasingly fast, impossibly sharp turns that would have juiced a human being, had there been any aboard. The disc streaked toward the distant horizon, then came to an instantaneous stop just above it. It hovered there motionless over the distant tree line for a few seconds, as if scanning the area beneath it with an invisible beam, before it abruptly launched itself skyward again, making another series of physics-defying changes to its course and speed.

    I tried to keep my cool. I tried to remain skeptical. I reminded myself that I was a man of science, even if I did usually get a C in it.

    I looked at it again. I still couldn't tell what it was, but I knew what it wasn't—it wasn't a meteor. Or a weather balloon, or swamp gas, or ball lightning. No, the unidentified flying object I was staring at with my own two eyes was most definitely not of this earth.

    My first thought was: Holy fucking shit.

    Followed immediately by: I can't believe it's finally happening.

    You see, ever since the first day of kindergarten, I had been hoping and waiting for some mind-blowingly fantastic, world-altering event to finally shatter the endless monotony of my public education. I had spent hundreds of hours gazing out at the calm, conquered suburban landscape surrounding my school, silently yearning for the outbreak of a zombie apocalypse, a freak accident that would give me super powers, or perhaps the sudden appearance of a band of time-traveling kleptomaniac dwarves.

    I would estimate that approximately one-third of these dark daydreams of mine had involved the unexpected arrival of beings from another world.

    Of course, I'd never believed it would really happen. Even if alien visitors did decide to drop by this utterly insignificant little blue-green planet, no self-respecting extraterrestrial would ever pick my hometown of Beaverton, Oregon—aka Yawnsville, USA—as their point of first contact. Not unless their plan was to destroy our civilization by wiping out our least interesting locales first. If there was a bright center to the universe, I was on the planet it was farthest from. Please pass the blue milk, Aunt Beru.

    But now something miraculous was happening here—it was still happening, right now! There was a goddamn flying saucer out there. I was staring right at it.

    And I was pretty sure it was getting closer.

    I cast a furtive glance back over my shoulder at my two best friends, Cruz and Diehl, who were both seated behind me. But they were currently engaged in a whispered debate and neither of them was looking toward the windows. I considered trying to get their attention, but I was worried the object might vanish any second, and I didn't want to miss my chance to see this for myself.

    My gaze shot back outside, just in time to see another bright flash of silver as the craft streaked laterally across the landscape, then halted and hovered over an adjacent patch of terrain before zooming off again. Hover, move. Hover, move.

    It was definitely getting closer. I could see its shape in more detail now. The saucer banked sideways for a few seconds, and I got my first clear glimpse of its top-down profile, and I saw that it wasn't really a saucer at all. From this angle, I could see that its symmetrical hull resembled the blade of a two-headed battle-axe, and that a black, octagonal prism lay centered between...

About the Author-

  • ERNEST CLINE is an internationally best-selling novelist, screenwriter, father, and full-time geek. He is the author of the novels Ready Player One and Armada and co-screenwriter of the film adaptation of Ready Player One, directed by Steven Spielberg. His books have been published in over fifty countries and have spent more than 100 weeks on The New York Times bestseller list. He lives in Austin, Texas, with his family, a time-traveling DeLorean, and a large collection of classic video games.


  • Publisher's Weekly

    June 22, 2015
    What if the X-Files were a “fictional alien cover-up created to conceal real one”? Cline (Ready Player One) makes this kind of paranoia intriguing in an SF novel whose strong opening compensates for a less gripping ending. After Zack Lightman’s father died in an accident, the teen distracted himself with gaming, achieving one of the world’s top scores in a human vs. alien invaders game called Armada. To Zack’s astonishment, one morning he looks out of his classroom window in Beaverton, Wash., and sees a Sobrukai Glaive, one of the enemy ships from that game. Skeptical of his own senses, Zack flees school to take a more careful look at his father’s writings, only to find an unsettling level of conspiracy thinking. Zack soon finds the connection between his vision and his father’s theories, at which point the story becomes more conventional and less imaginative. The plot holes get harder to ignore as the conclusion approaches, but the book’s beginning offers glimpses of Cline’s significant potential.

  • Library Journal

    June 15, 2015

    Living in the shadow of the father he never knew, Zachary Lightman is devoted to all things sf, especially video games such as Armada, in which he can pilot drones and fight an alien enemy attacking Earth. One afternoon as he sits in class during the final days of his senior year of high school, Zach sees a flying saucer outside the window. And not just any flying saucer: a Glaive Fighter, just like the enemy ships from the game. Zach fears that he's going crazy, but he soon discovers that the skills he has been honing on video games might be the key to saving the world. VERDICT With another winning teen protagonist in Zach, Cline mines the nostalgia and geek spheres just as successfully as he did in his acclaimed debut, Ready Player One. The works that obviously influenced the story line, such as Orson Scott Card's Ender's Game and the films The Last Starfighter and Star Wars, feel like homages rather than borrowings--a rap artist sampling the best beats out there to create an irresistible jam. [See Prepub Alert, 3/9/15.]--MM

    Copyright 2015 Library Journal, LLC Used with permission.

  • School Library Journal

    November 1, 2015

    High schooler Zack Lightman is staring out of the window during class one day and sees what appears to be a Glaive fighter, an alien ship from his favorite video game, Armada. Zack isn't imagining things. The aliens are real, they are on the attack, and it's up to the gamers of the world to save humanity. While some plot elements are unsurprising, Cline has created a fast-paced story with so much excitement and drama that readers will be happy to go along for the ride. Readers learn that some popular conspiracy theories are true: video games really have been used to train people to defend the Earth against aliens, with the leaderboards used to find the best fighters; science fiction movies and television shows have been funded by the government with the intention of getting the general population used to the idea that aliens do exist; and the world's most famous scientists, including Stephen Hawking, Neil deGrasse Tyson, and Carl Sagan, have all had a hand in it. This compelling story is made even richer through different perspectives brought by the diverse group of elite gamers tasked with leading the fight. Fans of the author's Ready Player One (Crown, 2011) will not be disappointed. VERDICT Although this is a great book for teen gamers, Cline's sophomore effort with young protagonists and questions about alien civilizations and government secrets will also appeal to fans of science fiction and conspiracy theories.-Carla Riemer, Claremont Middle School, CA

    Copyright 2015 School Library Journal, LLC Used with permission.

  • Entertainment Weekly "A thrilling coming-of-age story."
  • Gawker "Built like a summer blockbuster...Cline recombines the DNA of Ender's Game, Star Wars, The Last Starfighter, and old-school arcade games like Asteroids into something that's both familiar and unpredictable. It's a mutant homage to sci-fi tropes past."
  • Hugh Howey, New York Times bestselling author of Wool "Hugely entertaining...a paean to the videogames of a bygone era, and like Ready Player One it is a tremendous amount of fun for anyone who remembers that time and played those games."
    –George R.R. Martin, New York Times bestselling author of Game of Thrones

    "A novel so fun, you'll want to reboot it and read it again...the best novel this gamer geek has read in a long, long time."
  • John Scalzi, New York Times bestselling author of Old Man's War "Armada proves Ernie Cline is the modern master of wish fulfillment literature - and of reminding us to be careful what we wish for."
  • Library Journal, starred review "With another winning teen protagonist in Zach, Cline mines the nostalgia and geek spheres just as successfully as he did in his acclaimed debut, Ready Player One. The works that obviously influenced the story line, such as Orson Scott Card's Ender's Game and the films The Last Starfighter and Star Wars, feel like homages rather than borrowings- a rap artist sampling the best beats our there to create an irresistible jam."
  • USA Today "Enchanting...Willy Wonka meets the Matrix. Its geeky characters are geeky cool. And its action is imaginative, always cinematic.[Cline] even weaves a sweet romance into this hero-vs.-villain tale."

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