The Impossible Fortress by Jason Rekulak

Synopsis:

A dazzling debut novel—at once a charming romance and a moving coming-of-age story—about what happens when a fourteen-year old boy pretends to seduce a girl to steal a copy of Playboy but then discovers she is his computer-loving soulmate.

Billy Marvin’s first love was a computer. Then he met Mary Zelinsky.

Do you remember your first love?

The Impossible Fortress begins with a magazine…The year is 1987 and Playboy has just published scandalous photographs of Vanna White, from the popular TV game show Wheel of Fortune. For three teenage boys—Billy, Alf, and Clark—who are desperately uneducated in the ways of women, the magazine is somewhat of a Holy Grail: priceless beyond measure and impossible to attain. So, they hatch a plan to steal it.

The heist will be fraught with peril: a locked building, intrepid police officers, rusty fire escapes, leaps across rooftops, electronic alarm systems, and a hyperactive Shih Tzu named Arnold Schwarzenegger. Failed attempt after failed attempt leads them to a genius master plan—they’ll swipe the security code to Zelinsky’s convenience store by seducing the owner’s daughter, Mary Zelinsky. It becomes Billy’s mission to befriend her and get the information by any means necessary. But Mary isn’t your average teenage girl. She’s a computer loving, expert coder, already strides ahead of Billy in ability, with a wry sense of humor and a hidden, big heart. But what starts as a game to win Mary’s affection leaves Billy with a gut-wrenching choice: deceive the girl who may well be his first love or break a promise to his best friends.

At its heart, The Impossible Fortress is a tender exploration of young love, true friends, and the confusing realities of male adolescence—with a dash of old school computer programming.

Bonus content: Play the “The Impossible Fortress” video game at http://www.jasonrekulak.com/game/

This book was a trip!!  I read it in two sittings because it was so much fun.  It was a total blast from the past, with 80s nostalgia oozing off of every page (I was completely lost in the world of 1987 for two straight days and have had Hall & Oates on replay in my head ever since).  Oh, and every time I paused from my reading, I expected to look down and see myself dressed in the outfit from my 2nd grade school photo (sadly, I was not).

80s nostalgia aside, I really enjoyed these characters.  They were your typical young teens, trying to break the rules and be badasses, while trying to avoid getting caught for said badassery.  (Again, I was transported back to the days when I was that age, caught between still being a kid and wanting to do all of the grown-up things.  It’s so much fun to reminisce through the lens of rose-colored glasses.)  And then there’s the Mary situation: is she simply the link to attaining the elusive Playboy, or is she the first girl worthy of Billy’s affections? Oh, the angst!  (Did I mention that I couldn’t get enough of this book?  Because I couldn’t.)

One other random note: the beginning of each chapter is a chunk of computer code from the game.  Pay attention to it, because it’s actually the chapter titles.  So clever!  (I’m not going to admit how long it took me to catch on to this.)

And don’t forget: you can go play the game at Jason’s website.  It’s going to transport you right back to your childhood.

~Amber

Purchase links: Barnes & Noble Amazon

About the author (from Goodreads):

By day I am Publisher of Quirk Books, where I edit a variety of fiction and nonfiction. (This role should help to explain some of the more curious “bylines” on this Goodreads page — for ex, my credit for adapting HOME ALONE into a storybook!) Some of my all-time favorite Quirk projects include PRIDE AND PREJUDICE AND ZOMBIES by Jane Austen and Seth Grahame-Smith, MISS PEREGRINE”S HOME FOR PECULIAR CHILDREN by Ransom Riggs, and the Edgar Award winning LAST POLICEMAN trilogy by Ben H. Winters. After years of working with so many brilliant and creative people I finally took the plunge and wrote my own novel — THE IMPOSSIBLE FORTRESS — coming from Simon & Schuster in Feb 2017.

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