Monday, February 6, 2017

Early Review: The Impossible Fortress by Jason Rekulak

Title: The Impossible Fortress 
Author: Jason Rekulak 
Publisher: Simon & Schuster 
Source: Publisher 
Expected Publication Date: February 7th, 2017  
Pre-order: Amazon | B&N 


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.


When I began this story, my first impression was that my sides were going to be aching for days from laughing so hard at this hysterical trio of fourteen-year-old boys. Eavesdropping in on their inner thoughts and reading their conversations was immensely entertaining. But this story also pulled at my heartstrings in the most wonderful ways. I absolutely adored this book! I grew up in the 80’s, and this book is pure nostalgia. It’s a fast read, one that I devoured cover to cover in a single Saturday; but it’s sweet, funny, charming, and even a bit nerve-wracking at times. It’s Stand by Me meets The Wonder Years meets Can’t Buy Me Love.

When fourteen-year-old Billy and his hilarious and equally horndog randy sidekicks Clark and Alf discover that an issue of Playboy has just been released featuring the most beautiful woman in the world, the one and only letter-turning Wheel of Fortune hostess… Vanna White… they know they will stop at nothing to have this magazine. Vanna White. Boobs. Naked boobs. Vanna White’s naked boobs. It’s a miracle. It’s the lottery. No, it’s the Holy Grail, and it must be acquired.

After a couple of miserable (and comical) failed attempts at getting their hands on this magazine, a plan is made. Billy, computer whiz and coder extraordinaire, will get close to Mary, the daughter of Sal Zelinsky, owner of Zelinksy’s convenience store and seller of the coveted Playboy magazines. Mary is an expert computer coder just like Billy… actually even more skilled than Billy. She’s absolutely brilliant. The plan is for Billy to befriend Mary and find out the code for the store’s alarm. The three boys will then break into enter the store at night, leave cash on the counter, and each take a magazine. It sounds like such a simple plan. Naughty, but relatively harmless… they are going to leave the money for the magazines after all. But Billy didn’t count on how much he was going to have in common with Mary. Just how much he was going to like her. Billy also didn’t count on his friends not keeping their simple plan simple. Things get out of hand quickly, and you just know this could all blow up in their faces.

It made my stomach hurt thinking of how many things could go wrong and worrying about poor Mary’s heart. I bounced from severe anxiety to laughing out loud to being overcome with warm and fuzzy feelings. I loved every line of computer code, every nod to the decade, the witty exchanges – and mostly, I adored the delightful characters that are so colorful and endearing (even though some of the things the boys say are not politically correct at all, I had to remind myself that it was true to the time period).

This is the kind of book you finish reading and want to pick up and read all over again. If you love the 80’s, coming-of-age stories, or just reading a fantastic story, then crank up the Hall & Oates and Phil Collins and read this book. The Impossible Fortress is impossible to put down.

A huge thank-you to Simon & Schuster for a copy of this book in exchange for my honest review. 

© at A Belle's Tales



  1. The set in the 80's plus young love?! I'm definitely looking forward to this book!

    Vanessa @ Blushing Geek

  2. This book sounds adorable and I love the sound of all the 80s references. Glad you enjoyed this one wifey, it sounds like a riot. Great review!


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