THE IMPOSSIBLE FORTRESS -- a fun, breezy, and funny coming-of-age story wrapped inside a love letter to the '80s
The Impossible Fortress by Jason Rekulak (2017, Simon & Schuster; 304 pages)
The Impossible Fortress, Jason Rekulak’s breezy, funny first novel, is a coming of age story wrapped inside a love letter to the 1980s. It's the story of Billy Marvin, a 14-year-old boy growing up in a small New Jersey town in 1987. Billy is a trailblazer, a computer nerd before there were computer nerds, at a time when computers were just beginning to make their way into people’s homes. When he's not hanging out with his friends, Alf and Clark – both outsiders, like Billy – Billy is holed up in his room programming video games on his Commodore 64. Then Playboy magazine publishes photos of Wheel of Fortune hostess Vanna White, and the trio of friends – too young to just walk into the only store in town that sells the magazine -- Zelinsky’s -- and buy a copy, concoct a Mission Impossible-style caper to get their hands on the magazine. The scheme involves the three nerdy kids enlisting the help of a popular kid with a dark side, and Billy wooing Mary Zelinsky, the overweight daughter of the store’s owner. But Mary is a sharp-as-a-tack expert programmer herself, and, much to his surprise, Billy finds himself growing to really like Mary. As in, like-like. Of course, things go spectacularly awry in ways both hilarious and serious, especially for Billy, leading to another impossible mission for the trio of friends.
The Impossible Fortress has passages that are laugh-out-loud funny – many featuring references to the 1980s -- and others that are quite touching, and the story has some twists that you won’t see coming at all. It’s a light, fun read -- albeit one with some serious turns -- and I’d recommend it for older teens and adults.
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Recommended by: Greg