Author: Jason Rekulak
Publisher: Simon & Schuster
Published Date: February 7th 2017
Genre: YA, Contemporary,
My Rating: ★ ★ ★.5
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.
"I hadn't told them about my secret plan to grow up and make video games for a living... and I wanted to have my own software company. These all seem like crazy things to say out loud."
I have mixed feelings on this book. Rekulak did a good job of showing the cluelessness of teenage boys and the things that they will do just to see something that there not supposed to. But I also felt that while the boys friendship was realistic, it also lacked something. Billy, Alf and Clark are best friends yet we hardly learn anything about Alf or Clark besides the fact that they've all been friends forever and that they like to give each other a hard time about things. Also that they don't really care that one of them has a hand that as the character calls it "the claw" the boys don't draw attention to it, and are supportive of the characters opinion of it. Even though they think he shouldn't hide it all the time and that just because he has it doesn't mean that he won't find what he wants later in life.
Lets get back to the main point of the story though. Getting the playboy and seeing Vanna in all of her womanly glory. But as 14 year olds this is impossible, so they come up with an elaborate plan to steal one, to do that though they need a code to make sure an alarm doesn't go off. In order to get the code one of them must befriend or make the girl fall in love with him (lots of crude language used) in order to get the code. So billy decides to do it, and along the way he becomes friends with Mary the store owners daughter. Who is amazing at coding and a mystery to Billy. (Mary just might top my favorite list of characters.)
"You're the first person I've met with a 64, and you're a girl."
"Is that strange."
"I didn't think girls liked to program"
"Girls practically invented programming."
As the two start to work together Billy genuinely starts caring about her and together they make a computer game that could help them win the latest computer. This is were things get messy because you know why Billy is being nice, but you also start thinking that maybe just maybe he won't go through with the original plan. If he does or not that's something you'll have to read to find out.
You can even play the game Mary and Billy made The Impossible Fortress game on Rekulak's website, www.jasonrekulak.com, if you're a computer game fan.
"And just like that we were back in business"
Thank you to Simon & Schuster and Jelly books for an e-arc of this book in exchange for my honest review.