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.
Even stranger, the alien ship he’s staring at is straight out of the videogame he plays every night, a hugely popular online flight simulator called Armada—in which gamers just happen to be protecting the earth from alien invaders.
No, Zack hasn’t lost his mind. As impossible as it seems, what he’s seeing is all too real. And his skills—as well as those of millions of gamers across the world—are going to be needed to save the earth from what’s about to befall it.
It’s Zack’s chance, at last, to play the hero. But even through the terror and exhilaration, he can’t help thinking back to all those science-fiction stories he grew up with, and wondering: Doesn’t something about this scenario seem a little…familiar?
If you aren't familiar with Ernest Cline, he is the author of the massively fun and super duperly popular Ready Player One, which is currently being adapted for the big screen and will be directed by Steven Spielberg (and Simon Pegg has just signed on as part of the cast!). I adored the book and definitely recommend it to anyone and everyone looking for a fast and fun sci-fi tale packed with pop culture references. And I expect Armada will be no different!
(As a little bonus, there is an online Armada giveaway going on as we speak. You can check out the dets on that here.)
So now without further ado, here's that promised excerpt:
by Ernest Cline
All three of my opponents stood frozen for a moment, their eyes wide. The Lennys threw up their hands and started backing away. Knotcher’s eyes flicked over to them, and I saw him registering that his simian pals had bowed out of the fight. He started moving backward too.
I looked at the curb a few feet behind him, had a nasty thought, and followed through on it by lunging at Knotcher with the tire iron. He lurched backward and—just as I’d hoped—caught a heel on the concrete rise and landed flat on his back.
And then I was standing over him, looking down at the tire iron clutched in my hands.
Off to my left, someone screamed. My head snapped around and I saw that an audience had gathered— a handful of students on their way in to first period. Among them one girl, too young and deer-in-the-headlights to be anything but a freshman, slapped a hand over her mouth and flinched backward as I looked her way. As if she was terrified that I—Zack the school psycho—would choose her as my next target.
I glanced back at the Lennys, who were now standing among the students who had gathered to watch the fight. All of the onlookers seemed to be wearing the same expression of horrified anticipation, as if they believed they might be seconds away from witnessing their first homicide.
A wave of cold shame washed over me as the intensity of my rage faded away. I looked down at the tire iron clutched in my hands and let it clatter to the pavement. I heard a chorus of nervous laughter behind me, along with more than one relieved sigh.
I stepped away from Knotcher. He slowly got to his feet. We stared at each other for a moment, and he looked as if he was about to say something when his gaze shot upward, focused on something in the sky behind me.
When I turned around, I saw a strange-looking aircraft approaching from the east, moving at an incredible speed. The closer it got, the more familiar it looked. My brain still refused to accept what my eyes were seeing—until a few seconds later, when the craft braked to a dead stop and hovered directly over us, close enough for me to make out the Earth Defense Alliance crest stenciled on the side of its armored hull.
“No way,” I heard someone whisper. A second later, I realized it was me.
It was an ATS-31 Aerospace Troop Shuttle, one of the ships used by the Earth Defense Alliance in both Armada and Terra Firma. And it was about to land in front of my high school.
I definitely wasn’t hallucinating this time: Dozens of other people were staring up at the shuttle in amazement, too. And I could hear the rumble of the shuttle’s fusion engines and feel the heat from their exhaust buffeting my face. It was really up there.
As the shuttle began to descend, everyone in my vicinity scattered like roaches, heading for the safety of the school.
I just stood there like a statue, unable to look away. The ship was identical to the troop shuttles I’d piloted while playing Armada, right down to the EDA crest and identification bar code stamped on the underside of its hull.
The Earth Defense Alliance can’t be real, Zack, I assured myself. And neither can that shuttle you think you’re looking at right now. You are hallucinating again, only it’s much worse this time. This time, you’re having a full-on psychotic break.
Reprinted from Armada Copyright © 2015 by Dark All Day, Inc. Published by Broadway Books, an imprint of the Crown Publishing Group, a division of Random House LLC.
I don't know about you but I think my weekend plans have just been set!
And now for the giveaway: I have one copy to give to one of you lucky readers and all you have to do to enter is fill out the Rafflecopter below before Monday, May 2. Open US only.