Armada redux

Adel Gabot


I have a problem with Ernie Cline’s new novel Armada.

As I pored through it, I was constantly bothered by Cline’s endless use of nerd cultural references, The entire novel is shot through with them, to the point of it being maddeningly ludicrous. It was as if he was just stuffing the novel with references like it was going out of style and it was up to him to keep it alive.

I mean, it’s one thing to use them casually, as an aside or a necessary plot point, but a half dozen per page? It’s distracting as hell!

Another problem: Cline has this habit of making his characters shift their motivation willy-nilly, on a dime. A character would be saying something to another when he would suddenly shift their mood in mid-scene and make the conversation go off on an unexpected tangent, without warning. Like Zack, the main character, would be discussing something seriously with his father when he would suddenly shift to naked anger without any prelude or indication that he was going there. And Cline’s characters do this all the friggin time.

His pacing also leaves something to be desired. Plot points and developments just whiz by as if Cline wanted to get to the action right away and didn’t want to spend time with necessary exposition and character development, so he just jumps right to it. Just like an amateur novelist.

It’s as if Cline didn’t know how to write at all and was just winging it! Tsk tsk.

I didn’t see these shortcomings in his first novel, Ready Player One. Either that, or I was just enamored with the novelty of referencing nerdisms in a book and glossed over it. But here in Armada, it’s worn out its welcome and reading that style yet again is a damned slog.

I know saying this would be sacrilege to the geek and nerd culture that I’m very much a part of, but… I didn’t really like reading Armada.

There. I said it.

Oh, well.

Better luck next time.

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