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The Impossible Fortress by Jason Rekulak

The Impossible Fortress

by Jason Rekulak

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2393268,764 (3.71)10
  1. 10
    Ready Player One by Ernest Cline (InvisiblerMan)
  2. 00
    Eleanor & Park by Rainbow Rowell (bookappeal)
    bookappeal: For its 1980s cultural references, humor, and first-love storyline though gaming and computer programming elements are not found in Eleanor and Park.

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Showing 1-5 of 32 (next | show all)
I thought, as an adult, this story was riveting. I read the whole thing in a day.
However, it was not what I expected. I thought it would be a general entertaining story for middle school kids, especially those into math, and computers. But I found the content a little too heavy(not-so-accidental but unwanted pregnancy, and independently, a highly planned theft), to pass on to my grandkids who were not yet teens. I realize the themes are ok for middle school but I was looking for light reading for them for the summer. I give it a 4 instead of higher due to the treatment of childbirth as a temporary concern by the mother, nearly gone from her mind in just a month after the birth. There's a great difference between rarely mentioned after birth and rarely thought of after birth. My impression was that the baby was rarely thought of, rather than rarely mentioned.

The author did an excellent job on setting up a romance and capturing the nerd culture, and the middle school culture as well as a very accurate historical setting of the early computer days.

Perhaps the story is meant to show how a strong romance can mitigate even major mistakes. But that is not light summer reading but in a more serious category. The book reviews available do not point this out.

I'm not sure that page length is 320 pages since they are not numbered past 285. The story starts on page 1 and ends on page 285. After the page numbering stops, there are a number of things including a second title page. Then one of the pages after page 285 is titled "discussion". This is excellent for most of the book but still does not address why the child so quickly recedes from the mothers thoughts. That topic should be added to that list, or the story itself modified so thoughts of the baby do not seem to recede. ( )
  billsearth | Jul 27, 2018 |
I saw this blurbed somewhere as "Ready Player One meets John Green", and that was a pretty accurate assessment. It definitely read like someone trying to write a John Green-esque novel about teenage computer geeks in the 1980s, but it failed horribly at being an actual good book.

For the first half or so, I was moderately into it. The characters weren't great, but they weren't horrible. The plot was adequate. It had a nice little nostalgic 80s movie vibe with the "teen kids come up with a hair-brained scheme to do something ridiculous" story line. I thought that the relationships between all the teens were all fairly realistic. And then I got somewhere in the middle of the book, and it just all went downhill, fast (which is funny, since a large part of the end of the book actually involves climbing a small mountain). We went from one unbelievable situation to another, and the explanations that came for a lot of characters' actions were just completely out of left field and really felt shoehorned in. I was still wavering on giving it 2 stars, because I had enjoyed most of the beginning, but then I came to the final scene, and holy crap that ending was atrocious. I literally closed the book and said out loud, "Are you kidding me? That's where you went with this?"

Would not recommend.

  photonegative | May 10, 2018 |
I originally had this at four stars, but then I was making my breakfast and realized that something really bothered me: Mary was only "fat" because she was pregnant. Why couldn't she have been both overweight and pregnant? Or was it necessary for her to be slender in order for it to be okay for Billy to like her? I could deal with all the other stuff—the bullying, the crime, the lack of consequences for said crime—because it felt true to the time and the characters, but the whole "she was just pregnant, not actually fat, so it's okay to find her hot" thing pissed me off. Not enough to completely ruin the book for me, but enough for me to be reluctant to recommend it to teens, for whom it might otherwise be a good choice. Yeah, the attitude toward "fat" girls was accurate to the time, but it would have made Billy a more interesting character if he didn't care and stood up to his friends when they made fun of Mary. It just felt like such a "guy" thing to do and completely unnecessary. ( )
  BillieBook | Apr 1, 2018 |
This was a strange choice for me and I am definitely not the target audience, anything to do with video game and programming is enough to give me an aneurysm. That being said, I was a little puzzled about precisely who the book is aimed at. It reads very much like a YA novel but the young adults today seem unlikely to share it the nostalgia of the 1980s.

It's quite a fun story focusing on the antics of three teenage boys as they plot and plan to get hold of a particular issue of Playboy. Cue some ridiculous schemes including dressing as businessmen, posting an older stranger to but the magazine for them. Eventually they enlist the help of an older student of questionable character and dubious motives. Having bonded with the daughter of a store-owner over coding narrator Billy agrees to trick Mary into helping them get hold of the magazine.

The story is highly ridiculous, I struggled to believe that the characters would really follow-through with their plans or that they could really be so foolish but it is a mostly entertaining take off you just go along for the ride and overlook the paper-thin motivations and the eyebrow-raising lack of consequences for all the characters but poor Mary. The happy ending was a little too pat but at the same time it was wholly in keeping with the rest of the story.

Thanks to Faber & Faber and Netgalley for providing a free advance copy in return for an honest review. ( )
  moray_reads | Mar 20, 2018 |
The Impossible Fortress by Jason Rekulak

A coming-of-age story with a 1980s gamers theme. It’s setting is a small town, Wetbridge, in New Jersey, where, Billy Marvin, a typical fourteen-year-old, focuses on his talent of programming video games on his Commodore 64 computer. But he’s a slacker when it comes to school work, and this understandably upsets his single-parent mom. Seemingly unrelated, Billy and his two friends, Alf and Clark, devise a plan to get hold of a Playboy magazine (the news stand age to purchase is 18) when they hear that Vanna White of Wheel of Fortune fame is featured on its cover and centerfold. The complicated scheme they come up with involves Zelinsky’s local store, where the owner‘s daughter, Mary, works after school. She is also a computer nerd and Billy solicits her help with a program for a game he’s started to design but has been unable to finish, named, The Impossible Fortress. Working together, the goal is to enter a contest to win a much better, and much faster (this is the 80s when computer technology is exploding) machine.

Sounds like ordinary YA fare, right? But it’s NOT.

What makes this 2018 Edgar Nominee so extraordinary is all the intriguing details, and how Billy and his friends go about implementing their plan as it escalates into a crime caper with numerous snags. Then there’s Billy’s dilemma of his changing feelings for Mary -- Billy's friends call her fat and have fat jokes about her -- with an unpredictable turn of events that makes this an exceptional story. It holds a wonderful interplay of humor and heart. I highly recommend this book. . ( )
  PaperDollLady | Jan 27, 2018 |
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This book is for my mom and dad.
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My mother was convinced I'd die young.
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"Until May 1987, fourteen-year-old Billy Marvin of Wetbridge, New Jersey, is a nerd, but a decidedly happy nerd. Afternoons are spent with his buddies, watching copious amounts of television, gorging on Pop-Tarts, debating who would win in a brawl (Rocky Balboa or Freddy Krueger? Bruce Springsteen or Billy Joel? Magnum P.I. Or T.J. Hooker?), and programming video games on his Commodore 64 late into the night. Then Playboy magazine publishes photos of Wheel of Fortune hostess Vanna White, Billy meets expert programmer Mary Zelinsky, and everything changes."--… (more)

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