Author: Ernest Cline
Publication Date: 7/14/15
How I Found It: Blogging for Books
Date Completed: 4/23/16
Summary: Zack Lightman is a big time gamer, but he knows the difference between reality and science fiction...at least until he's recruited by the government to fight real life extra terrestrials.
What I Thought: This book was so fun. Cline blends tons of real life pop culture with some futuristic fictional stuff as well to create an exciting, compelling story. As I mentioned when I reviewed Ready Player One, Cline's first novel, I am a nerd, but not a gamer. Thus, many of Cline's references are lost on me and I certainly cannot relate to the obsession with video games so many people enjoy.
Even still, there is plenty of sci-fi fun for non-gamers here. Cline packs the book with reference to not only video games, but also TV shows, movies, music...basically any form of entertainment you can think of. In the plot, much of this mass media was created or funded with the intent of preparing the general population for an alien attack without causing panic and paranoia. Turns out, much of humanity was training to fight against invasion without even being aware. Once Zack learns of what's really behind most of his favorite media, the story takes on its own life. It's a great premise, but also a pretty decent follow-through as well. Cline delivers some great battles despite the video game inspiration. I think this one would play really well on screen.
One reviewer noted that Cline sneakily takes on xenophobia in the book as well. It's an idea that I think has gotten more play in alien stories as of late. As we continually deal with fighting hatred among ourselves, teaching tolerance in an allegorical way and involving aliens seems a logical step and an easy moral to bring to sci-fi. Cline is very subtle about it, in my opinion, but the lesson is still there.
This one is fun and frivolous. It's a fast read and an exciting one with lots of action. You certainly have to suspend disbelief at times - not only because of the aliens and the manipulations of the video game industry, but also some of the character plot points (spoiler: Zack's rediscovery of his father as the greatest Armada player of all time was a serious stretch for me, but it was still fun). Still, this would be a great read for any sci-fi fan looking for a quick, entertaining diversion.
Will I Re-Read: Maybe eventually, but not any time soon.
Other Books By Ernest Cline: Ready Player One
A Reduced Review: Things get exciting when it turns out video games were actually boot camp for humanity's fight to survive.