The Impossible Fortress by Jason Rekulak
My rating: 3 of 5 stars
In the glorious year of 1987, Vanna White appears in Playboy, sending Billy and his friends in a frenzy to grab that coveted magazine. All Billy has to do is get the alarm code from the stationary store owner's daughter, Mary. Things get complicated when Billy discovers Mary is into computer programming on her Commodore 64, just like he is...
Since my wife comandeered the Kindle to read Anne of Green Gables, I'm chewing through my physical backlog of books. I picked this one up at the Goodreads Summit in 2016. It was a fun little read.
It's funny that the Vanna White Playboy was part of the plot of The Impossible Fortress because that's the one skin magazine my dad had, that I know of. Way back in the day, a co-worker of my dad was dying of cancer and asked him to do the 1990 equivalent of clearing his browser history, retrieving his porn stash from his locker at work. Dad brought it home and said "That Vanna White Playboy is on top of the fridge in the garage if you guys want to look it. Don't let your mom catch you."
Anyway, The Impossible Fortress was fun book. While it's not marketed as such, it's probably best classified as a young adult book. I'm guessing Quirk pushed the nostalgia aspect to grab more readers.
The story is part heist tale, part coming of age. Billy and his friends plan capers to secure copies of the Vanna White Playboy issue. Billy starts having feelings for Mary while the two work on a computer game, The Impossible Fortress, for a contest. Anyone who has ever watched a John Hughes movie knows where things are going.
I found the Impossible Fortress entertaining while I was reading it. The nostalgia doesn't feel forced and doesn't overshadow the story. The relationship between Billy and Mary blossomed pretty naturally and I really wanted them to win the contest. Burglary to retrieve the Vanna White Playboy was kind of a stretch. It's not even a great issue but, then again, many a fourteen year old has done many a stupid thing for a glimpse at naked flesh.
While I found it entertaining, I didn't find it particularly memorable. The only characters of substance were Billy and Mary and the writing was... light, maybe? Unchallenging? Stripped down? The writing didn't have a lot of meat to it is what I'm getting at.
At the end of the day, it's a fun story but The Impossible Fortress isn't anything I'd say people need to go out of their way to read. The story is cute and the nostalgia is fun but that's all there is. Three out of five stars.
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