As a follow-up to the excellent "Ready Player One," Armada felt much more formulaic, derivative, and rushed.
Among the problems that litter this book, by far the most troubling was the plot's jarring pacing. An overly lengthy intro of mundane life introduces us to a myriad of characters, only to sweep the reader off to an entirely new situation, introducing an all new slew of characters whose dimensionality were undercut by a ten chapter long climax. This certainly seemed liked a trilogy of books all smooshed into a single story that skips straight from the beginning to the end, cutting out most of the middle ground that would have filled it out.
Scaling down to the finer details, this story did manage to come through with its promise to be an ode to outer space nerd lore, from film to TV and to video games. Its premise of video game players becoming soldiers worked well, though more time would have allowed to elaborate more on this. Problems I faced with the nerd cultural fog floating over this story was the over-reliance on pop culture references and quotes used throughout, which seemed indulgent and uncreative. Using "May the force be with us" as a battlecry and other similar instances like this drudged this story in too much nostalgia, taking away opportunities for new, creative ideas to take hold.