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.
Hardcover, 304 pages
Published: February 7th 2017 by Simon & Schuster
Three and a half stars: A funny, nostalgic love story that takes you back to the eighties.
Billy can't believe his ears when one of his best friend's tells him that Vanna White, America's Sweetheart, is showing her bare bottom on the latest edition of Playboy Magazine. Unfortunately, Zelinsky's convenience store is the only place in town that sells the dirty magazine. Even worse, Mr. Zelinsky is a stickler and refuses to sell the magazine to anyone under eighteen. Desperate, Billy and his two friends, Alf and Clark, hatch numerous hair-brained schemes to get their hands on Vanna. Billy even goes to far as to offer to seduce Mary Zelinsky, a plump, computer nerd, in order to get the magazine. What Billy doesn't expect is to fall in love. Will he lose his heart and score the magazine?
What I Liked:
- The Impossible Fortress is a laugh out loud book that takes you back to a simpler time, before cell phones and the internet, to the eighties, when Wheel of Fortune and Vanna White were in their heyday. I loved this funny story with heart, and I especially like that it made me nostalgic for my youth. If you want an entertaining story, with some surprises and one that is all things eighties, grab this one.
- I loved the ridiculous antics of Billy and his friends. Granted, sometimes they got themselves into some stupid situations due to their immaturity, but they made me laugh out loud. I enjoyed their scheming and plotting all in order to get a Playboy Magazine to see a naked Vanna White. These three will make you laugh.
- For me, the highlight of the book was the time period. I was the same age as Billy in the book, so I could totally relate. I loved that this books took me right back to my teenage years with the music, the movies, the computers and more. I would recommend reading this just for the eighties nostalgia.
- The romance is just right. I liked that it was realistic and that it stayed true to the characters. This is a relationship born when two fourteen year olds bond over computer programming. I liked that it was awkward and hesitant and that it never felt forced. I think the author got it just right. If you go into this expecting butterflies and swoon worthy moments, you will be disappointed. This is told from the view point of a fourteen year old boy.
- I was surprised at the later developments in the book. It ended up having a lot more heart and it became something more than stealing a magazine. I especially felt for Mary even more when I learned the whole truth about her situation.
- I enjoyed all the computer geekiness. Being a teenage girl in the eighties, I wasn't obsessed with the Commodore 64, so it was all new territory to me, and I found it fascinating that you could do so much even way back in the eighties.
And The Not So Much:
- I wished that there was more development with Alf and Clark, especially Clark with is birth defect. Those two characters could have been fleshed out more. Instead there are the stereotypical stupid friends who are always coming around with dumb ideas to get them in trouble. I also felt like their scheme went a little bit too far when shoplifting was involved.
- I didn't like that there was bullying. Alf and Clark are cruel when it comes to Mary. They constantly make fat jokes and talk smack about her. I know this is how boys act, but I wasn't a fan of this, the only thing that made it a bit better was that they never did it to her face.
- The ending felt abrupt to me especially after the jaw dropping revelation. I wish there was an Epilogue because I really wanted to know how things turned out for Mary down the road. Perhaps the author will consider a sequel.
The Impossible Fortress was a funny and heartwarming coming of age story with a hint of romance set in the eighties. I loved revisiting my youth vicariously through the characters. This book made me laugh, and then it surprised me with heart. This book was good time, and I recommend it for anyone who wants a funny read.
I received a copy of this book from the publisher in exchange for an honest review. All opinions are my own, and I was not compensated for this review.