If you like: space wars * puzzles * Independence Day
Zach Lightman is sitting in class, counting down the days until graduation, when he looks out the window and sees an alien spaceship straight out of his favorite video game. Suddenly, he views his whole life through a different lens. He wonders about his father’s delusions and death. He also wonders if he is following down the same path. Has he been playing video games and starting to lose his mind, or is he a part of something else entirely?
What I liked:
Zach Lightman finds himself at the very center of a strange conspiracy. Unearthing the lengthy conspiracy put together by his father has haunted Zach. We all fear finding out we are crazy, and when Zach sees the logic in what his father believed, he starts to question himself. At the outset, the idea of a story where video games have been preparing us for interplanetary war could be ridiculous and cheesy. Instead, the book is a great series of “hell yeah!” moments. We all want our nerdiness to have a payoff. For Zach, the games he has been playing, both for enjoyment and in small part because he believes it brings him closer to his father, make him into a powerful force.
The element of misinformation allows the story to have a feeling of being obvious and unexpected the whole time. From the first page you know that Zach is not crazy and really did see a spaceship. Following along his journey, and staying with him as he decides to follow his gut and do what he thinks is right gives us the opportunity to question what we would do in his situation. He is not some infallible superstar plucked out of anonymity. He has been training and an external hand has been secretly guiding his development. In spite of that, the inquisitive streak he inherited from his father helps him to question everything and not just buy in.
If you have been waiting for your moment, read Armada.
Cline, Ernest. Armada: A Novel. Crown/Archetype, 2015. Kindle Edition.