Zack Lightman has spent his life living through his father’s obsessions. Since his father died when he was an infant, his mother carefully stored his father’s video games, notebooks and even clothing for Zack–just so the boy had a way to learn about his father.
Zack takes each and every thing his father left seriously, diving into his father’s favorite movies and video and board games. If he lived in the city, he would be considered somewhat of a hipster, but because he lives in the country, people give him trouble–and his reputation hasn’t helped since his aggressive outburst a few years ago.
He has a core group of two good friends, as well as a boss at a vintage game store that is in his corner. But when ships from the games he plays start invading his town (and the rest of the world), he isn’t sure WHO to tell (or if they will believe him). So, when a friendly ship drops down and tries to recruit him into the Earth Defense Alliance (from the game!), he jumps onboard–and his idea of what’s really going on in the world is changed.
Soon, Zack is really fighting aliens, protecting the Earth from a real threat. And he has orders to go to the Moon base established by the EDA…and work with a high-ranking general in the first line of defense. Will Zack be able to help save the world, or is he just going to be fodder for the invading enemy?
I really enjoyed Ernest Cline’s writing and story. That being said, I felt like there was a Starship Troopers, The Last Starfighter and a little bit of Ender’s Game throughout the novel. I liked that. It made me feel more at home with the concept. At the same time, there was enough new stuff that Cline threw in to make it unique.
I also really enjoyed the characters created. I wanted to visit the places they went, and see the things that they saw, despite Cline clearly telling the story. And, once it really WAS over, I felt satisfied. I finished the book not feeling like I had been cheated.
I would recommend this to anyone looking for a bit of retro-based storytelling, or as a gift for the video gamer in your life. It is available in hardcover, ebook and audio formats currently.