Tag Archives: Alien Invasion

Armada by Ernest Cline : Review

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Zack Lightman has spent his life dreaming. Dreaming that the real world could be a little more like the countless science-fiction books, movies, and videogames he’s spent his life consuming. Dreaming that one day, some fantastic, world-altering event will shatter the monotony of his humdrum existence and whisk him off on some grand space-faring adventure.

But hey, there’s nothing wrong with a little escapism, right? After all, Zack tells himself, he knows the difference between fantasy and reality. He knows that here in the real world, aimless teenage gamers with anger issues don’t get chosen to save the universe.

And then he sees the flying saucer.

I discovered Ernest Cline back in 2011 when a friend of mine suggested I read his first book Ready Player One, which quickly turned into one of my all time favorite books. I have been waiting the nearly four years since them for him to follow up with a second book with the hope that his first book would not be just a fluke. After finishing it I can honestly say Armada is one of the corniest, most ridiculous books I have had the pleasure to read. I can’t count the number of times I had to laugh out loud at some corny science fiction cliche or shake my head at an extremely over the top scene. I absolutely loved it. I am glad to see that Ready Player One was definitely not a fluke and for Ernest Cline to prove once again he knows exactly which nostalgic buttons to press to make someone love a story.

Zach Lighman is what I would call your typical teenager — he goes to school, has an after school job, and would love nothing more than to spend all his free time at home playing video games. More than any other game Zach loves playing Armada, an MMO about fighting off an alien invasion through the use of remotely controlled drones, a game where Zach holds a place among the top 10 players in the world. Zach’s life quickly turns to chaos when he discovers a secret organazation run by the worlds top governments have been using television, movies and video games to slowly prepare the world for the revelation that aliens are real and an invasion is on its way. Zach will soon have to use all the skills he has managed to pick up playing Armada to help fight off an alien invasion and save the world.

While there are plenty of other books, movies and television shows with the same basic plot as Armada, Ernest Cline does something all of these other things never do. he acknowledges them. Cline takes some of the best tropes and cliches from almost every one of them and manages to shove them into the pages of his book, and he somehow manages to make it all work in an amazing way. Like Ready Player One this book is full of enough pop culture references to either make your head explode or have you digging out all your old DVD’s and video games in an attempt to relive them all once again.

The only complaint I would have against this book is that it had to end, I would have been happy to still be reading it weeks later. Like Ready Player One it’s only just a matter of time before Armada is picked up by a movie or television studio and this is something I can’t wait to see happen, it will translate well. I am already waiting to see what kind of story Cline will manage to come up with next. The wait is going to be unbearable.

I received a free copy of this book in exchange for an honest review.


The Last Mile by Tim Waggoner : Review

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All Dan wanted was to be a good husband and father, to provide for his wife and daughter, to keep them fed, warm, and safe. But then the malevolent godlike beings called the Masters arrived, and their darkness spread across the world, reshaping it into a twisted realm of savagery and madness. In exchange for his family’s protection, Dan now serves one of these alien gods, obtaining human sacrifices to feed his Master’s eternal hunger.

Like so many people since the world changed, Alice has had to do unspeakable things to survive. Unfortunately for her, she’s Dan’s choice for his next sacrifice. Now Dan drives along the shattered remnants of an old-world highway, headed for his Master’s lair, Alice bound hand and foot in the backseat of his car. Dan may not like what he’s become, but he’ll do whatever it takes to protect his loved ones. Alice doesn’t intend to relinquish her life so easily, though, and she plans to escape, no matter the cost.

But in the World After, everything—animals, plants, even the land itself—has become a predator, and the journey to the Master’s lair is an almost guaranteed suicide run. But Dan won’t give up, and he won’t stop fighting. Not until he makes it through the Last Mile.

While this isn’t the type of story i normally read, (I tend to avoid end-of-time stories), but with The Last Mile Tim Waggoner has put an interesting twist on the genre. Instead of a devastating natural disaster, or something like a nuclear war triggering the end of civilization, we have the arrival of the Masters. In the World After nature itself seems to have turned on humanity, forcing those who have survived to live in hiding among the ruins of their once great cities, and allowing the Masters to subjugate them further. Dan is a man who has been branded as a thrall by one of the Masters, and in return for his service his family is given some semblance of safety and civilization. All that Dan has to do to keep his family safe is go out and bring back fresh sacrifices for his Master, the Last Mile is the story of one such trip.

Despite what I thought was an interesting plot concept for a dystopian world, I really didn’t enjoy this story all that much. The major focus of The Last Mile seems to be on the characters and not the plot or setting, and I really didn’t find the characters enjoyable at all. There was very little for me to sympathize with in Dan, I found his flash back scenes particularly difficult to get through, there was just too much gratuitous sexual violence. Alice was a little more enjoyable of a character for me, but not by much, some of her choices in the flash back scenes left me scratching my head.

Tim Waggoner has impressed me the few other books of his I have read, and his writing style in this is as good as I remember, but I just could not enjoy it. Maybe someone who enjoys scenes of gratuitous genital mutilation by way of masturbation with kitchen utensils may enjoy it, or someone who can understand remorse free cannibalism and murder. I am disappointed to say though that this story was definitely not for me.

Despite that, I am still looking forward to the rest of Dark Fuse’s releases for September, and I would suggest anyone who hasn’t done so should check out their novella line, or any of Tim Waggoner’s other books and stories.

I received a copy of this book in exchange for an honest review.

The Last Mile is set to be published on October 21st by Dark Fuse.


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