- About the Book
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."
The love story is the most affecting. The discovery that the girl who Billy has to befriend and deceive turns out to be his soul mate makes for a very compelling and sweet tale of first love and all the complications that come with it.... THE IMPOSSIBLE FORTRESS is a fun, fast read that would make a great accompaniment to The Goonies, if a couple of those adventurers hit puberty and took their scheming to a whole new level. There will be the usual references to John Green here, but Rekulak doesn't dive into the depths of teenage angst in quite the same melodramatic way, which makes the story more enjoyable and, personally speaking, easier to get through. There is a wistfulness here that won't make you sob, which is kind of nice since real life is depressing enough these days.
Although it's being marketed as adult fiction, it's full of clueless boys, consequence-free adventures and generous helpings of adolescent humor, all served up with a kind smile.... Of course, all these plans quickly go wrong, but you don't read this novel for its plot-twists. Rather, you relish the book's countless callbacks to the 1980s: Every TV show, Hollywood star, snack food, video game, brand name and especially every song is duly name-checked to the extent that Phil Collins could demand a cut of the sales. In the way of so many first novels, this scene-setting is drastically overdone, but the whole thing is brought off with a sweet neatness nonetheless.
Need a sanctuary book right about now? Maybe a retro escapist read about simpler times that lets you laugh out loud, not overthink, indulge in nostalgia? Well, here you go.... a quirky, endearing, full embrace of the late 80s. Set in those promise-filled, early years of the Computer Age, its clever plot is driven by surging teen hormones and fumbling first love, by bad adolescent choices and a struggle for redemption.... Throughout this charming adventure, Rekulak injects 80s references... But it all serves the setting without being overdone or gratuitous.