Cline has done it again. Crafting another fantastic novel that embraces and celebrates pop culture interwoven with a thrilling narrative.
Embracing its inner Iron Eagle, Ender’s Game and The Last Starfighter, while in turn paying nods to Contact and 2010: The Year We Make Contact, Cline has crafted a novel that revels and embraces its geekdom, taking a familiar story, interweaving it with all the wonderful tie-ins that populate my very brain, as well as his, and so many people around the world, creating a character in Zack Lightman, who is well aware that everything he’s experiencing is a direct product of his sci-fi viewing, reading and gaming habits.
With a dearth of pop references that come fast and thick, leaving this reader with a perpetual smile on his face, we join Zack on a quest to save the Earth, and all humankind when he spots an alien fightercraft, just like the ones he plays against in the massively popular Armada game flying over his home town.
From there, he gets recruited by the Star League to defend the frontier… sorry, by the EDA, a secret group of fighters who are gearing up to defend the Earth from an imminent invasion.
Even as Zack gets pulled into this new reality, he realizes something doesn’t quite ring true with everything he’s learning and everything he’s being told, but with the attack mere hours away, what can he do about it?
I loved this book so much, like Cline’s previous novel, Ready Player One, I was constantly smiling and chuckling to myself, seeing myself in the film quotes, the nods to Trek, Wars, and so many others, and then being shocked at how emotionally involved with the characters I had become when things start to get real for our hero.
The story very much has the quest/crucible story at its heart, Zack isn’t the same person he was by the end of the novel, though he’s still doused in pop culture…
I don’t want to reveal too much, because the revelations throughout the novel put a nice twist on everything we’ve come to expect from a story (or games) like this. This is the kind of book that is just a joy to read, and I had to force myself to slow down, savor each moment, because I was rushing through it so quick, devouring pages, chapters, loving it all, but fearing the end of the book would come to quickly.
And it did.
Now I have to wait to see what Cline comes up with next.
The references, the characters, the surprise characters, the moments, everything played across the big screen in my mind’s eye, and I could see it all, Cline writes the way I talk, and it felt like he had written this story specifically for me.
Have a look at this one, it’s fun, engaging, and catch all the brilliant, often laugh out loud references!