Armada

Discussion in 'TMB Book Club' started by LKRFN88jp, Jul 11, 2015.

  1. LKRFN

    LKRFN Aces!
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  2. prerecordedlive

    prerecordedlive Sworn Enemy of Standard Time
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    My copy should be shipping tomorrow. :chatzy:
     
  3. Arkie Proud

    Arkie Proud The Dungeon Master
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    I've read that Cline goes back to the nostalgia-porn well again. I absolutely loved RPO, but I hope this is different somehow. Supposed to be a lot like The Last Starfighter. Crossing my fingers...
     
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  4. Bishop

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    Will download tomorrow. Been looking forward to it.
     
  5. laxjoe

    laxjoe Well-Known Member
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    actually planning on hitting up the local barnes and noble tomorrow at lunch to pick up the book. i didn't pre-order on amazon, and I just finished my last book yesterday, so i'm gonna want something to read tomorrow after work. really excited
     
  6. RonBurgundy

    RonBurgundy Well-Known Member

    Will enjoy, worse case scenario poor man's Ender's Game IMO
     
  7. laxjoe

    laxjoe Well-Known Member
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    Just picked up my copy over my lunch hour
     
  8. LKRFN

    LKRFN Aces!
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    Got mine earlier this morning. Re-read the preview chapter since it had been about a month since I read it and I also read the second chapter. I am all in, absolutely fantastic so far and I can't wait to read more after work tonight. Couple of thoughts
    - I remember reading the preview chapter and thinking his dad would play a big part. That is even more obvious after the second chapter/his journal.
    - I'm surprised yet happy that Ender's Game was mentioned and was one of the focal points of his dad's journal. This idea is so similar to that, so I'm happy Cline is pointing towards it. Less worried about the book moving forward just because of that.
    - That one arcade game with the Men in Black is an actual thing. There is a legit conspiracy theory about it. So that's cool.
    Fun read, happy to have another book from Ernest Cline. Btw, it just looks fantastic. Inside of the dust cover is pretty sweet too.
     
    #8 LKRFN, Jul 14, 2015
    Last edited: Jul 14, 2015
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  9. The Blackfish

    The Blackfish The Fish in Black
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    As i mentioned, I bought the autographed copy. Says it won't be delivered until next week. I'm a little disappointed but I'll live, because I won't actually read that copy. Once I finish Queen of Fire I'll read the ebook. Glad you're liking it so far.
     
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  10. RegimentML

    RegimentML Well-Known Member
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    I probably won't start until I finish Winter's Heart (WoT #9) so I'll probably be a week behind ITT.
     
  11. Arkie Proud

    Arkie Proud The Dungeon Master
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    Got it today. Unsure whether to read this or Go Set A Watchman. I hear the latter is sub-par.
     
  12. laxjoe

    laxjoe Well-Known Member
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    I started this first and will be going to go set a watchman next. through about 100 pages so far. Enjoying it for sure.
     
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  13. prerecordedlive

    prerecordedlive Sworn Enemy of Standard Time
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    Through about 40 pages and starting to pique my interest.
     
  14. LKRFN

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    I'm like 100 pages in, wish I didn't have to work because I just want to keep reading.
    His boss being involved to the level of which he is was not something I expected to happen. Now just trying to figure out his dad's overall role in this. If his stuff is classified, he obviously played a big part in something, but I have no idea what since his stuff was just rambling/figuring it out on his own. And if he did figure out what they were doing, I don't think killing him would be the play, because why not just have him join the club and help the efforts?

    Unless he's not actually dead and the "murder" was a cover up. I don't think the story of his death ever specified if there was a body or not so perhaps he's still alive.
     
  15. Arkie Proud

    Arkie Proud The Dungeon Master
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    Almost half-way. I'm digging it. Here's a major guess, but I'm gonna spoiler it anyway.

    His dad is not dead. I guarantee that 100%. Body was burned beyond recognition and the coroner (aka the government) had to use dental records. His dad was recruited like he was and Zack will meet him at some point, probably as a very senior member of the defense force.
    Now some speculation / discussion:
    I'm curious about the other top players, those that do not talk to anyone online. We met the #5 kid, but I wonder if 1-4 are real? I wonder if they are bots that only encourage the others to do better. My gut tells me we meet them, and they are real, but I'm just dubious about them in some way.

    Zack has already stated this, but something is funky about the whole thing. You piss off a planet by desecrating a temple / holy spot, so much so that they threaten all of you species, they don't ait 40 years to do something about it. There's another layer.

    Was also surprised his boss knew about the whole thing.

    I'm pretty sure Zack's dad Xavier and I were probably best friends.
     
    #15 Arkie Proud, Jul 15, 2015
    Last edited: Jul 15, 2015
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  16. laxjoe

    laxjoe Well-Known Member
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    finished it. really really enjoyed it. thoughts
    will be very interested to hear everyones reaction to the ending. it had a Contact type feel to it, which i know lots of people didn't like. personally, i liked the ending because he hinted at something not being quite right the whole time, and, to me at least, it made sense in the whole story. but i can imagine some will get to the end and be disappointed they were fighting an AI the whole time. pretty fucked up test though.

    good predictions on the dad being alive/playing a major role. i guessed the same when they said that his body could only be identified with dental records, but had also mostly forgotten about it by the time zack was told his dad was alive and would be his CO. added a great level to the story, imo. and of course just made it harder that he lost him again not even 24 hours later. side note, i had to keep reminding myself that the whole story took place over like 36 hours, with most of it in a single day. we spent a couple hundred pages with xavier and got comfortable with him, but for the characters, he was there and then gone in an instant.

    is he setting up a sequel at the end there? and i'm excited to see what they do with this book as a movie.

    as for the inevitable ready player one vs. armada debate - i'm too close to the book right now (i literally finished it, thought about it for a couple minutes, and came here to post) to compare the two. i think last night while i was reading the first half, i would have said i liked RP1. but then i just flew through the 2nd half of armada, and personally really enjoyed it. for right now, i'm gonna say i like both a lot, and don't want to choose. i hope that's ok

    anyway, looking forward to others finishing it and hearing your thoughts.
     
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  17. laxjoe

    laxjoe Well-Known Member
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    also, i can't be the only one that hates the feeling of finishing a good book (or maybe i am and that sounds really weird to everyone else). but i've been looking forward to this book for a while now, and fully immersed myself in the book the last two nights...and now it's done.
     
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  18. LKRFN

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    I was thinking that today when I passed the 100 page mark. Like fuck, I've been wanting to read this for a long time and I'm over a third of the way through.
     
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  19. RonBurgundy

    RonBurgundy Well-Known Member

    I know these feels.

    Got so excited about the Stormlight Archive series with all the stellar reviews people give them and I pounded through 2000+ pages in like 2 weeks and now I'm like what do I do with my hands?
     
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  20. prerecordedlive

    prerecordedlive Sworn Enemy of Standard Time
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    Still feeling that with The Martian.
     
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  21. laxjoe

    laxjoe Well-Known Member
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    Capture.JPG
    we're basically best friends
     
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  22. LKRFN

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    On page 195/53% through after updating my progress on Goodreads
    Nailed it. So his dad is alive and will be his boss. Awesome. It just seemed so weird that he would be killed after figuring out that this was a real thing. I don't want to quote Arkie Proud above just in case he's not caught up, so I'll just respond to you here Arkie - couldn't agree more in regards to wtf is actually happening. 40 years later they attack? I get that you need to build ships and everything, but it's just so strange and doesn't really fit.
    Should be able to get a bunch more reading done tonight, can't wait.
     
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  23. Bishop

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    Not very far. My battery died on my kindle last night while reading. Just got to the part where we find out Cruz's call sign in Kvothe! :lovelove:
     
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  24. Arkie Proud

    Arkie Proud The Dungeon Master
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    299/380 (~75% done)

    I'm enjoying it, but my Lord is Cline a cheesy writer. In RPO, I assumed the characters talked they way they did to reflect some pseudo-80s vernacular, as if they were over emphasizing manners of speech and phrases because they believed people in the 80s talked that way. Now, I'm not so sure. Cline is bad with dialogue. And Zack is an unlikable protagonist IYAM. Also, does everyone that is good at Armada listen to old 80s music? Seems one of the younger kids would pop in something more modern. And why is his dad a general and his dad's superior officer an admiral? In what military branch do those ranks reside together? None. It's minor, but could so easily have been corrected. Is it a nod to something else? An allusion to something coming down the pike? Or just a general bad mistake by Cline? Even if you look across the globe, no country combines admiral and general in the same branch.

    As far as the twist I know is coming (the aliens aren't really trying to kill us for some reason), it's so, so apparent that there will be some major twist that it will be anti-climatic. You can feel Cline setting at his computer thinking, "It's like The Last Starfighter or Ender's Game... but with a TWIST!"

    I'm getting disillusioned by it all, to be honest. I hope it hits a great stride and Cline knocks it home. Like I said, despite the last few paragraphs, it's an enjoyable read and I'll finish it by tonight. It's engrossing and light, and that's always a good thing. I like Cline, and I hope this is as successful as RPO. It isn't near as good, but it keeps him in the pantheon of nerd writers.
     
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  25. Arkie Proud

    Arkie Proud The Dungeon Master
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    Finished.

    I may be alone in this crowd, but this was a pretty shitty book. It was all a test? There never were any aliens? He knew his dad for like 20 hours? Get the fuck out of here. Remember when the Brit died and Xavier ran to him and cried. Zack was all, "It was the only time I saw my dad cry." Nigga, you knew him for 20 hours! As far as you know, he cried every day.

    That Emissary drone talked to him then fled away out of our solar system. "I never saw it again." The high school bully comes to get an autograph. Then melds into the crowd. "I never saw him again." What hackneyed bullshit.

    And again with the dialogue. "Are those alien pricks dissin' us!?" "Archie never did like hip-hop!" "No wonder they didn't answer their phones. They were boning each other!" SMDH.

    Ernie, I loved RPO, but Armada is complete shit, my man. I'm just gonna pretend it never happened.

    237 / 1000
     
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  26. Arkie Proud

    Arkie Proud The Dungeon Master
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    A spoilered-filled review from Goodreads that backs up my thoughts above:

    Teenager Zack Lightman is the 6th best Armada player in the world, a sci-fi shoot ‘em up where you pilot a ship blasting away alien invaders. And then he discovers the game was really designed to find the best pilots in the world and he’s been drafted in a real-life war against aliens!

    Computer games used to find skilled players - kids, usually - to fight aliens in an intergalactic war? Yeah, it’s been done already in The Last Starfighter and Ender’s Game. In fact the derivative nature of Ernest Cline’s Armada is emblematic of the novel as a whole which isn’t so much a story as it is a collection of quotes and references from other, actually original works of pop culture sprinkled liberally atop an adolescent wish-fulfilment fantasy.

    The story is told in Zack’s first person. By far the most irritating aspect of the novel is the way Cline writes Zack’s internal monologue – note that Zack is a mega-fan of pop culture. Every simile – and I mean. Every. Single. One. – is a reference to something. A movie, book, game, whatever.

    For example: “I’d felt like a young Clark Kent, preparing to finally learn the truth about his origins from the holographic ghost of his own long-dead father.”

    and

    “What if they’re using videogames to train us to fight without us even knowing it? Like Mr Miyagi in The Karate Kid, when he made Daniel-san paint his house, sand his deck, and wax all of his cars - he was training him and he didn’t even realize it! Wax on, wax off - but on a global scale!”

    This isn’t just lazy, sloppy writing but it’s detrimental to how the book will read to some people. Not only do we not know what Zack is supposed to be feeling because he’s not telling us, he’s describing how another character in a similar situation would feel but only describing the situation. But if you’re unfamiliar with the reference, you won’t know what Zack/the reader is supposed to be feeling. Or you’ll have to jump on Google to find out yourself which isn’t exactly what anyone sitting down with a book is hoping to end up doing!

    The simile references aren’t just every now and then, they’re on nearly every page which becomes enormously tiresome. Zack cannot describe anything, or have a single conversation, without name-dropping at least one pop culture reference. And while I got most of the references, I didn’t enjoy them so much as I grew to hate Cline’s shockingly inept storytelling style.

    The story itself isn’t much better. Yes it’s ripping off The Last Starfighter and Ender’s Game but beyond that there isn’t much else to the book. The “gamers save the world” storyline is extremely self-indulgent and tedious, while the pervasive worship of nostalgia is simply boring.

    But at least Zack has a semblance of character as opposed to no-one else in the book. His glaringly obvious love interest, Lex, isn’t so much a character as an extension of Cline’s fantasy. She’s drop-dead gorgeous and as steeped in pop culture as Zack so the two get to make repeated obnoxious references to one another in the least funny, most annoying meet cute ever. Not only that but she is hot hot hot for nerds, especially gamers who’re super-good at Armada. Lex might be Cline’s most pitiful moment in the whole novel.

    Zack’s friends, Nerdle-dee and Nerdle-dum (I don’t recall their names but that’ll do), are just funnels for every fanboy message board, arguing about what superhero could beat some other superhero or what movie’s better than another. Describing these “characters” as one-dimensional is generous.

    When he’s not making references, Cline’s describing the supposedly-exciting battle scenes in space between Earth’s forces and the aliens’. Except describing a space battle is not nearly as exciting as seeing one in a film, TV show or game and there are dozens of pages devoted solely to this. My eyes glazed over every time Cline was describing some super-awesome dogfight Zack was in.

    But it isn’t just Cline’s inability to bring any real drama to the proceedings – just how exciting is it to see two drones fight one another? Because, for most of the fights, the people operating the machines are safely tucked far away from the action while two unmanned drones shoot at one another. Two lifeless robots shooting lasers at one another is as exciting to read as it sounds.

    Things happen too quickly – one minute Zack’s a high school student making Lord of the Rings references with his Say Anything-obsessed mother in their living room, the next he’s in space preparing to fight a war that’ll save humanity. There’s no real build-up to the war against the aliens, no real sense of fear that this is “mankind’s final hour”. Everything’s too rushed to have any impact on the reader.

    As unconvincing as the characters are, once these teens get drafted and are given titles like “Captain” and “Lieutenant”, it took all I could muster not to say “oh fuck YOU!” every time we saw some dweeb suddenly being saluted by self-appointed “Generals” and “Admirals”. It’s like watching little kids play dress-up or seeing a Scientology ceremony except you know they’re just idiots while Cline is asking us to take these teenage “Captains” seriously like everyone else in his story is for some stupid reason. It’s too much – I could suspend my disbelief for an alien invasion but not for some dickhead gamers being called actual military ranks and treated like actual ranking officers. There’s not enough vomit in the world to express how I felt during those scenes.

    And really – we’re meant to believe that teenage gamers was the best strategy the brilliant minds of the world could come up with to fight the aliens? Socially dysfunctional, emotionally-damaged, undisciplined crybabies who’ve never know responsibility beyond a part-time job or an essay deadline are suddenly entrusted with billions of dollars’ worth of equipment to SAVE THE WORLD?! But then again we’re dealing with Ernest Cline’s fantasy specific to gamers so it makes (non)sense.

    Armada is pure fan service to gamers. It pats them on the head, confirming their ridiculous beliefs that they are the most amazing people in the world and that nobody understands the true importance of gaming. The book is also for people who like seeing things they’re familiar with who’ll go “oh I remember that therefore this is great!” ie. mindless fanboys who only react to brands rather than substance and who enjoy feeling part of an asinine club because they “get” certain references others don’t.

    The real failing of Armada is that for all Cline’s knowledge of pop culture, he’s unable to contribute anything original to it with his book. That’s the point isn’t it – to create something new and start a whole new set of references rather than simply quote endlessly from others ad nauseam? But Cline opts for the latter and produces a book of completely insubstantial drivel.

    Armada is tedious sci-fluff that renders itself near-unreadable due to an over-reliance on cultural reference shorthand to communicate key moments of its feeble story and the savvy-ness of the reader to pick up on them. When picking what to read, shoot for something higher, something original, challenging, ambitious and fresh - in other words, anything but Armada!
     
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  27. The Blackfish

    The Blackfish The Fish in Black
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    Arkie Proud I see you rated it 1 star on Goodreads. That's depressing. Starting this weekend at the latest. I'm off work on Monday and plan to finish it then.
     
  28. Arkie Proud

    Arkie Proud The Dungeon Master
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    I'm an idiot, man. I'm sorry. Really, I didn't think my Goodreads would be something people could see. I hope I didn't spoiler it for you. Shit. My bad.

    You and I have differed a lot on books, so hopefully you can go into it untainted. It has a ton of 5 stars as well.
     
  29. The Blackfish

    The Blackfish The Fish in Black
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    Your opinion won't taint my reading experience, I make my own opinions. We differ a lot but usually not on books like this. We will see.

    Also, I didn't read your review, just saw your star rating.
     
    #29 The Blackfish, Jul 16, 2015
    Last edited: Jul 16, 2015
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  30. TheGrifter

    TheGrifter It's a trick. Get an axe.
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    Hmmm. I loved Ready Player One and I planned on picking up Armada once I finished the newest Blood Song, but I'm going to push it back on my list if the rest of you also felt it wasn't very good.

    Can some of you who finished give a rating without spoilers? Like a 1-5 scale?
     
  31. Arkie Proud

    Arkie Proud The Dungeon Master
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    1
     
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  32. TheGrifter

    TheGrifter It's a trick. Get an axe.
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    Well, I mean, yeah...
     
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  33. LKRFN

    LKRFN Aces!
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    3. Really liked the first half, second half left a lot to be desired.
     
  34. The Blackfish

    The Blackfish The Fish in Black
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    59%

    So the whole scifi reference every other sentence is starting to wear on me. It was fine in RPO but doing the exact same thing in the second novel is a little much.

    Like most I called the father still being alive. Didn't call him being The Red Baron though. No doubt this is still a page turner. I'm hoping I like the ending more than others, may finish tonight.
     
  35. The Blackfish

    The Blackfish The Fish in Black
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    One more thought

    The architects of Moon Base Alpha not having time to design it so they stole designs from scifi movies is the stupidest thing I've ever read
     
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  36. Arkie Proud

    Arkie Proud The Dungeon Master
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    Keep reading.
     
  37. The Blackfish

    The Blackfish The Fish in Black
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    So I finished. Tough book to review but I'll give it a try

    So it wasn't very good. I won't say I hated it because it was light and fun at times, and have mixed feelings about the "test."

    Here are some bullet thoughts, many of them mirror the goodreads review, that guy nailed all of the big qualms I had with the book.

    The dialogue was bad. Like Arkie said, It wasn't very good in RPO but the plot being original and so much fun covered up a lot of its flaws. This book didn't have that so the dialogue constantly made me cringe.

    The character development was atrocious

    The constant quoting and referencing classic scifi / fantasy books movies and videogames became annoying. I know his premise was that the aliens were doing this based off of our videogames and movies so referencing it could be somewhat relevant but it just came of as really cheesy.

    As i said before, saying that the architects of MBA didn't have time to design so they stole designs from many classic scifi movies is the dumbest thing I've ever read.

    With that said, I didn't actively hate the plot. It wasn't nearly as strong as RPO that helped mask some of RPO's other flaws, but it wasn't terrible. I know he ripped off a lot from Ender's Game and The Last Starfighter but I was somewhat okay with it because he didn't try to hide that fact. The idea of a alliance of ancient alien civilizations that monitors other fledgling civilizations to see if they are worth being in the group appealed to me somewhat. I thought the way they went about the test was dumb but whatever.

    Also are they retarded? The humans should have FAILED that test miserably! Just because a one in a million shot that the lightmans foiled the rest of earth's plan to destroy the "Europan's" shouldn't have been enough to pass the test, unless the Solidary is still just fucking with humans.

    2/5
     
  38. RegimentML

    RegimentML Well-Known Member
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    I'm 100 pages in. Damn this is a fun read.

    I'll be done by Saturday.
     
  39. RegimentML

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    Just finished it. My thoughts have already been covered itt by others so I'll just give a score as 6/10. It was a fun read and that's why it gets that high, but it had some flaws that definitely keeps it from being a great book. Cline is a fun writer so I won't act like I've ever had him pegged as a great one. There's a difference to me. Dialogue was corny, development was lacking, etc. All that said, I still couldn't put the book down and had a smile on my face for almost the whole time. There's something to be said for that.
     
  40. prerecordedlive

    prerecordedlive Sworn Enemy of Standard Time
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    Cline has to learn to adapt his dialogue. He doesn't know how to write a teenaged character. They all speak like total fucktards.

    I'd also give it a 6/10. First 200 pages were great. Ending wasn't all the bad to me. :idk:
    Just some lazy shit here and there like "I never saw [ ] again." Same as in RPO with how everyone "grinned" and everything "irised". Shut the fuck up, Cline.
     
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  41. RonBurgundy

    RonBurgundy Well-Known Member

    Finally got around to reading it.

    Fast read.
    Fun read.
    Not a unique idea, but done in a new way, but that didn't bother me.
    Opposite of well-written.
    Characters pretty flat.
    Dialogue pretty awful.

    Not awful but not even in the same league as RPO.

    6/10. Better than Seveneves
     
  42. Boner_Jihad

    Boner_Jihad "Do you like hurting people?"

    Cheers for the non spoiler review even though it's dampened my spirits for this title. I liked Ready Player 1 despite feeling at ends with all the pop culture references that were tossed in to appease those who might get 'em having lived through that era or gratify those who sought out said eras and liked 'em for whatever reasons and felt like elitists because they knew 'em when others might not. Sad to see that this is more of the same with copied elements from other established books, but I'm sure I'll enjoy reading it somewhat before I go into Ender's Game and the like.
     
  43. triceratops

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    If Cline was an unknown author this book is a $.99 self published work of fiction on Amazon.

    Those type of novels are often easy to read and the pages turned quickly and are not boring and that is positive in my book. The dialog is also typically poor, the characters flat and plot recycled and unoriginal. All of this is true with Armada.

    Chapter 2 when Zach and his Mom are having a "talk" was so unnatural it was cringe worthy. Made me feel uncomfortable reading this dialog.

    Zach wasn't particularly likiable as a protagonist and not a character that you can get behind.

    There are way to many obscure pop culture references. Every other page basically. Like a bad version of early Bill Simmons columns.

    All of this has been rehashed.

    If not for the success of Ready Player One, I can't see the book getting published personally. Only people that will truly like it are serious gamers in my opinion.
     
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