Book review by
Michael Berry, Common Sense Media
Armada Book Poster Image
Spaceship adventure fails to rise above its gimmick.

Parents say

age 13+
Based on 1 review

Kids say

age 11+
Based on 2 reviews

A lot or a little?

The parents' guide to what's in this book.

Educational Value

Armada is filled with references to pop culture and science fiction from the '80s. It presents a history of how video games and sci-fi films influenced each other after the release of the first Star Wars movie.

Positive Messages

Sometimes parents have to make great sacrifices to protect their children. People whom others regard as weirdos or misfits can possess hidden skills. It's never too late to try to reconcile with an estranged family member.

Positive Role Models & Representations

When Armada begins, Zack has a hard time controlling his temper. Selected for a secret mission to battle aliens, he proves that he has the courage to do what's right rather than what is expected of him.


There's a gunfight in which a main character is wounded. Vast numbers of civilians are wiped out by alien forces, but those scenes of destruction are not presented directly.


Zack has a crush on a female pilot, but there's no time for them to be romantic. However, some of his squadron-mates pair off on their last night before the big mission, including a gay male couple. No graphic details are provided.


Casual swearing occurs throughout Armada: "damn," "hell," "asses," "a--hole," "bitch," and variants of "f--k." Each is used less than a dozen times.


Abundant references to real-world games (Atari), movies (Star Wars), snack foods (Mountain Dew) and technology (Apple).

Drinking, Drugs & Smoking

In one scene, Zack and Lex take surreptitious sips of alcohol from a flask.

What parents need to know

Parents need to know that Armada is a humorous science-fiction adventure about an alien invasion. As in Ernest Cline's previous book, Ready Player One, the text is full of references to popular culture, especially movies, sci-fi, and music from the '80s.The violence is mostly limited to starship battles, although there's a shoot-out in which a main character is wounded. Casual swearing occurs throughout, including "damn," "hell," "asses," "a--hole," "bitch," and variants of "f--k." Instances of lovemaking are implied rather than shown. Two teens take sips from a hidden flask of alcohol.

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User Reviews

  • Parents say
  • Kids say
Adult Written byKjbartolotta July 28, 2015

Fun but uninspired

Knowing there's a big of everything objectionable, I wouldn't worry too much about who I give it to. Fans of Ready Player One will find lots to enjoy,... Continue reading
Kid, 12 years old July 1, 2019
Teen, 13 years old Written byILoveCSM April 26, 2016

Good, but has some boring parts

This book is okay for ages 12 and up. Armada is a good book, but it borrows some elements from other books (Ender's Game) and other movies, but it actually... Continue reading

What's the story?

When high school senior and gamer Zack Lightman spots a UFO outside his window, he thinks he might be hallucinating. But when he's recruited later that day by the Earth Defense Alliance to repel an alien invasion, he knows the threat is all too real. Although skilled at piloting digital starships online, Zack needs to prepare himself for real-life combat at a military base on the dark side of the moon. In the process, he learns some long-hidden family secrets, but even bigger surprises await him as the countdown to battle ticks away.

Is it any good?

For anyone who enjoys sitting down and picking apart the logical inconsistencies in favorite movies or TV shows, this is the perfect book. But if you're not interested in the minutiae of video game history and sci-fi lore, Armada may be a tougher read than Ernest Cline's earlier novel, Ready Player One.

The setup doesn't feel as fresh, the battle scenes seem repetitive, and the big reveal at the end disappoints. There's still plenty to like, though: funny gags, an engaging narrator/protagonist, some thrilling action scenes.

Talk to your kids about ...

  • Families can talk about how video games have become an important part of pop culture. Why are online games so popular? What does the medium offer that others don't?

  • What kinds of sacrifices do parents have to make in military families? How might it feel to be a child whose parent is stationed in a dangerous area overseas? What can be done to support such families?

  • Do governments ever lie to their citizens? Why might they do so? Is concealing important information from the public ever justified?

Book details

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