My rating: 5 of 5 stars
I typically hate it when an author tries to mine cultural references and kick around in sandboxes long harvested by others. Usually it bounces me from a book in a second. But somehow Ernest Cline was able to keep me hooked throughout the entire novel.
I could start listing all of the books, movies, tv shows, and songs that Armada is inspired by, pays homage to, or lifts from, but there’s little fun for me in that. The fun is in the immersion of this novel. You can hear, see, and imagine everything in this book, because Cline engages all of the senses on a regular basis, and often without any heavy lifting on the part of the reader. Cline’s writing style is so straight forward that it’s easy to forget that you’re reading a novel sometimes. It feels like a conversation at the best of times. His similes and metaphor often lead straight back to some cultural touchstone. Again, this usually annoys me, but somehow Cline gets it done.
The story itself is straight forward and archetypical. So if you don’t like tropes and sci-fi, fantasy, or pop culture references, then this book definitely isn’t for you. But the story is also funny, touching, serious, heartfelt, and original.
It’s a book of inevitable surprise. I often knew what was going to happen next, but it wasn’t about. It was about the experience, and the way that Cline simply-and masterfully-took me to the next inevitable moment.