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By Chad on 01-08-16
Lacked the freshness of Ready Player One
Would you say that listening to this book was time well-spent? Why or why not?
I wasn't thrilled with finishing this book. I went in with very high expectations, considering how much I loved Ready Player One. There were a few decent elements of this that really showed promise, but the overall story was a Last Starfighter meets Ender's Game. I didn't think it was "terrible", but there were times I thought originality was lacking. Trying to separate out my expectations is tough, so three stars is where I decided.
How would you have changed the story to make it more enjoyable?
I get the desire to include a romance element into the story, but this aspect was way too brief to be even slightly believable - so that's probably the main area I would change. The best parts of the book had to do with the time frame between learning the origins/effects of the game, and the actual fighting. That element was the most interesting, and offered some real opportunity. The ending was just way to predictable and too similar to other esteemed cult classics, but can one suggest a different ending?
Which character – as performed by Wil Wheaton – was your favorite?
When Wil tries to display angst or sadness in talking, it makes me smile. So rather than a particular character (there's not a whole lost of character differences), I'll have to go with Wil trying to portray the appropriate emotion. I think he does excitement, interest, smugness, non-emotion really well. Any type of negative emotion pretty much sounds like he's 9, and his friend just broke his favorite toy (sometimes that's what you want, but sometimes not). Still enjoyable :)
If this book were a movie would you go see it?
Well, I'm a nerd, and it'd be a movie about a gamer becoming a real space fighter.... so um, yeah, It's a safe bet that I would go see it.
Any additional comments?
If you enjoyed Ready Player One, then you are going to read/listen to this no matter a review, so you might as well just buy it. It's not "terrible", but it's not going to be as good as Ready Player One. It's almost unfair for Cline that our expectations are unreasonably high due to how good RPO was.
155 of 164 people found this review helpful
By Tony E. on 09-29-15
The Last Starfighter Lives
I finished Ready Player One and saw that this book was recommended as it was by Cline and again narrated by Wil Wheaton. The pop culture worship from RP1 was still here but was not as endearing. I was not drawn in by the characters as I was from the previous book. A geek with unexplained psychotic super strength blackouts which never were really explained? A token girlfriend who he met for an hour? The ultimate sacrifices made by characters we really only know for a moment and thus don't really have an emotional tie? Yeah, the story was interesting but I feel, like the characters in the book, the story has been told in parts through the SciFi genre for the last 40 years.
31 of 33 people found this review helpful
By Tyler J. on 02-11-18
Great unless you are expecting Ready Player One
Many reviews are critical because it is not Ready Player One part 2 If that is what you are wanting, you will be disappointed. I was reluctant to purchase this due to the negative reviews and was worried it would be disappointing. I think a lot of listeners overthink it while comparing the two books. I listened to this with my 3 boys and they all loved it enough that they wanted to leave for school 10 minutes earlier so we could listen to it in the car in the school parking lot before they went in.
I was mildly disappointed feeling the ending was somewhat rushed and it went from climax to resolution very abruptly. I do agree that RP1 is the better of the two books, we have 4 people in our household that give Armada a thumbs-up review (Ages 12,13,16,40-something).
8 of 8 people found this review helpful
By Amazon Customer on 07-17-15
I loved Ready Player One. Hated Armada
I loved Cline's first novel, Ready Player One, because it was an exciting, intelligent plot, and an orgy of 80's nostalgia. The writing was immature, and the book had many flaws, but I forgave it everything because it was so much fun.
I was prepared to absolutely love Armada. I pre-ordered it on the first day it was possible to do so. I also listened to it the instant it became available. And I cringed my way through every painful second of it.
While the 80s nostalgia seemed to be a genuine, organic thing in Ready Player One, it seemed forced and gratuitous in Armada. Reference after reference after reference was made from the first page to the last... but unlike in Ready Player One, the referenced 80s games, movies and music serve no purpose in the story. OH, a handful of them are critical to the backstory, but 99 percent of every reference made in this book is just transparent pandering to the audience. HA! REFERENCES! HA! I REMEMBER THINGS. DO YOU REMEMBER THOSE THINGS TOO? HA! ISN'T IT FUNNY TO REMEMBER THINGS?
Next let's talk about the characters. Really there was only ONE character in the whole book: a person of loves video games, who is a nerdy outcast, smart but misunderstood, who loves 80s nostalgia, who acts inappropriately and unprofessionally, and who is social awkward. There. I've just described EVERY. SINGLE. PERSON in this entire novel.
The plot is half-baked, and Cline knows it. He deals with the problem by sweeping it under the rug. He pretends that the weirdness will be dealt with, but really he ends the book with a very rushed, very lame explanation that even the protagonist isn't happy with.
There is absolutely no nuance to the plot, either. We go from point A to point B without any plot twists, and without our main character experiencing any sort of real drama or crisis... not in the literary sense. At no point in this book do you ever get to ask yourself "How will he get out of this?!".
The dialog is lame. There is no ACTUAL humor at all. Every "joke" in the book boils down to: "HA! REFERENCES!".
I'm so incredibly disappointed in Cline. He's shown no growth at all in his writing, apparently learning nothing at all from the criticisms of his first book. And instead of doing something truly original here, he's produced an entire book that is just shameless pandering to his audience.
Like so many sequels, the author failed to understand what made his first work great, and so he repeated all the wrong things in his second work, while leaving out the heart.
417 of 490 people found this review helpful
By Jon Huff on 09-10-15
A Stumble. But Great Narration!
Man, what a let down. I really wanted to like this book. But I just didn't, for the most part. If Ready Player One was your witty, geeky friend who peppers a lively conversation with the occasional, knowing pop-culture nod then Armada is the boring, geeky friend who is always trying too hard and doesn't seem to realize that spouting movie quotes isn't actually a substitute for carrying on a conversation.
It's not all bad. There are fun moments. The dissection of video game logic is fun. But the characters are so flimsy they are non-existent. It's hard to care about their fates. The female love interest, Lex, is not a character at all, just some perfect alt-girl wet dream. Everyone else is cardboard cannon fodder. And, yes, the basic plot is an "homage" to a couple stories from the 80s. It wears that on its sleeve. But, to me an homage really works best if you do something new with it. Cline tries, but his answer to that is a "big reveal" at the end that has also BEEN DONE TO DEATH. A couple times in Star Trek alone. And it's dreadfully boring.
Which leads to the writing. The incessant references and quotes get irritating after a while. Why a kid who grew up in the 90s is obsessed with 80s pop culture is explained in the story due to him trying to connect with his dead father. But, it doesn't explain why any of the other young adults in the book seem to only be obsessed with it, too. When Lex's playlist is revealed, for instance, it's all 80s music too. It just further reinforces the sense that these aren't real characters at all. Just cardboard cut-outs trundling along to the book's predictable end. Cline seems to lose interest in the book by the end, too, as a climactic scene goes into "tell don't show" mode as a series of "And then he did this and then this and then this" sentences, sucking away all the drama at a time when it really could have used it.
Also, what happens at the end doesn't really make sense to me. But, that'd be spoiler territory so I won't mention it. Just ask yourself.... "Did that really prove anything?"
This feels like a fumble. But I wouldn't swear off further books by Cline. His style is very straightforward and simple, but there's certainly some charm to it. He just needs better developed characters. And I'd steer away from pop culture-fests for a while. I listened to the audio-book, and I'll say that Wil Wheaton does a great job with it. I kind of wish I'd listened to RPO on audio, now.
53 of 62 people found this review helpful
By Bryan Stern on 07-29-15
Not nearly as good as Ready Player One
Look, I enjoyed a good deal of the book. Will was great. But it paled in comparison. Ready Player One was so awesome, I couldn't help but compare the two. Too much of the book was like a long video game. If you are into that, this book may blow you away. I'm not. And it didn't. Still, I enjoyed the characters and relationships. Great narration. For me, still worth reading. .
31 of 37 people found this review helpful