The Impossible Fortress (★★★★★)

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Jason Rekulak   *   Simon & Schuster   *   February 7, 2017   *   304 Pages

Advanced Reader Copy provided through Amazon Vine.

It’s 1987, and 14-year old Billy Marvin and his two best friends, Alf and Clark, are in over their heads. What started out as a small scheme to snatch (then photocopy) a Playboy from Sal Zelinsky’s corner store has suddenly become much more complicated. Now the boys are sitting on a ton of cash (prepayment from their classmates for glossy pics of naked Vanna White) with no working plan in sight–at least not one that doesn’t involve serious criminal activity. But Alf and Clark are getting desperate to make good to their paying customers, so they, with encouragement from their new 18-year old “friend” Tyler, have decided on a new strategy. It will require Billy getting close to Zelinsky’s daughter in order to get some inside information. The major problem:  thanks to their shared love of coding and computer games, Billy may already be genuinely falling for her. Torn between his loyalty to his friends and the butterflies of his first crush, Billy has to figure out how to keep everyone happy. Of course, he can’t, and life-changing drama ensues.

I loved this book. LERVED it. Billy and his friends are so nerdy and lovable–just a perfect blend of humor, intelligence, innocence, and trouble. They remind me of the kids from Stranger Things and Goonies and Super 8 and Stand By Me–ALL THE GOOD MOVIES. I guess a coming-of-age story like this–where a group of young boys has to work through a difficult situation–isn’t totally unique, but author Jason Rekulak executes it flawlessly. The plot moves along swiftly. Even though I could guess where things were going generally, the book still managed to surprise me at more than a few points. Best of all, the story made me laugh. The dialogue is legit funny, and I was so entertained by all the 80s pop culture references. It took me back…

On a side note, if you go to the author’s website, you can play a real-life version of The Impossible Fortress video game based on the one in the book. It’s really fun–and surprisingly difficult… I thought that was a really nice touch.

In short, this is possibly my favorite book I’ve read this year. So, so good!

 

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