Fiction, Loved-it, Nerdy and proud, NetGalley

The Impossible Fortress by Jason Rekulak Fun, nerdy, relatable and yet shocking - a tale of being a teen in the 80's

Back to the blog and so long to the unannounced, unplanned hiatus. Or rather, I hope so?

Like some of you might have noticed, or at least my egoistic and attention craving little blogger-self hopes you have, I have been away from blogging for at least two weeks. A good, solid fortnight. And none the wiser, cause it wasn’t planned and I wasn’t even sure what to do about it. To be honest? Still not sure I do. Part of it is connected to the fact that my blog had died and my last post got eaten by the word-devouring monster and that scared the shit out of me. Another part of it was that I’ve been working till 8 or 9 pm for the past few weeks. That has significantly cut my reading time as well, putting me so far behind on my Goodreads reading challenge progress that I can pretty much see the origins of the Big Bang from here.

(Not the show. The event that kick-started the world, you funny munchkin.)

Anyhow! But, I am finally back, and yes – still alive and kicking, thank you, and here with a new book review. This one you are going to enjoy! (I mean the book, but hopefully the review as well.) I had a lot of fun reading this one, and without further ado, here it goes!

The Impossible Fortress by Jason Rekulak

★★★★☆       a solid 4 stars.

So, what’s special about this one? What do I think you’ll like?

★ It’s about the late 80’s (1987, in partcular)
★ It’s nerdy. In a really good way
★ It’s about teens, and they are not perfect. Far from it!
★ It’s got a fun tone, it’s lighthearted, although it deals with tough topics at times
★ And get this, it’s got a programmer chick. She is no supermodel either. I LOVED HER.
★ There’s a twist and it shocks your socks off. Although maybe it’s just me being naive – after all, who uses an expression like shocks your socks off anyway..? Can it, grandma.

A little bit about the story.

The story here is quite simple. A few really nerdy boys want to steal a Playboy from a corner store (there are particulars about why they’d want that, but I won’t spoil). One of them infiltrates the store, trying to get closer to the boss’s daughter to find out the security code. Little do his friends know that he’s really into it because he wants to hang out with a chick who’s better at programming than him. Little does he know that she is also not as transparent as he thinks.
The Impossible Fortress here stands for the game they are programming. It’s a lovely part of the book and I’ll be talking about it more later.

So let’s talk about the best bits of the book.

The 80’s have been idolized, especially lately, what with all the hipstery pop, taking anything and everything from every possible era in the 20th century. But it’s done in such a nice way here – truly, it’s a love letter to the decade. Especially if you happen to be a little nerdy yourself (check for me). The main characters in the novel write video games – video games for computers we might not even deem computers anymore. And it’s just SO COOL. It might just be me, but remembering how I dabbled in writing code myself when I was 14 or 15, it’s just so nostalgic. I enjoyed myself a lot, reading about the ancient computer tech those kids work with. After I finished the book, I even googled an online old tech museum.

Okay, so this one is just a particularly old and sooty model.
They weren’t all actually archeologically covered in dirt.

The teens we are talking about are pretty interesting as well. Misfits the lot of them! Adorable, and yet real – some of the choices they make are really, really bad. And I don’t mean just ‘bad’ as in ‘morally incorrect’. I mean ‘bad’ as in ‘life cripplingly stupid and obviously going to bite you in the ass’ kind of bad decisions. Lying in all the wrong places, not seeing the truth, trying to get out of things when it’s really not going to help. And living with their awful choices afterwards. Isn’t that part of being a teen? Not being able to see anything the way it really is, the way any adult sees it? And in connection with this, there’s this thing about the storyline – that you’ll be able to see the plot really soon, perhaps in the first few pages – and that’s okay. Why? Because the teen protagonists won’t. It makes sense too – something that was complicated when you were 14 can seem a lot simpler when you’re older, as you look back. This is part of the fun in this book – you know what’s going to happen. But they don’t.

And now, let’s talk about The Impossible Fortress. That’s the game the characters are making, and the whole reason I chose to read this book on NetGalley was because it was featured as a maze on the first cover:

In my opinion, this cover was lovely! It shows the plot so well too. If the author’s reading this, hey, why did you guys decide to change the cover?

Anyway, the fun thing about The Impossible Fortress is that it made the jump from fiction to reality and you can play the game the characters are making on the author’s site! How cool is that?

But it’s not only that. Because you’ll find the impossible fortress constructed into the story as well – in the end of the book. I loved that especially, because it gives the book a little bit of the fairytale feel – saving the princess from a castle.

Which brings me to the end. I thought I knew what was going to happen. I was almost right.

But not completely.

I won’t spoil it for you anymore, I’ll just say that I stayed up till 2 am to finish this one. It was great fun, it’s a light quick read and it’s greatly enjoyable. And despite being light, it deals with some really hard (and surprising) problems. I do recommend it strongly.

Have you heard about this book? Do you like nerdy reads? Share with me!