ARC Book Review: The Impossible Fortress by Jason Rekulak
ashley | Simon and Schuster hooked me with their description of The Impossible Fortress by Jason Rekulak, saying it was a feel good love story with a dash of 80s nostalgia and even it’s own playable video game!
Parts of this were really charming. I enjoyed reliving the 80’s, before the internet, when it took ages for things to load on the computer and graphics were made out of symbols and numbers. There were illustrated parts of the book, too, which added a nice break. I enjoyed the friendship between the three friends Billy, Alf and Carl and loved that they were so nerdy and into coding and creating games well before it was mainstream. I liked the relationship that blooms out of Billy’s friendship with Mary, and how the two made a pretty good team.
So I got the nostalgia, I got the coming of age of fourteen year old boys and their interest in seeing a naked Vanna White. Boys will be boys, right? But what I didn’t get, or more so, what I couldn’t take was the way they spoke about Mary, the slightly overweight daughter of the store owner where the coveted Vanna White Playboy is. It was horrible. Kids aren’t nice, boys especially when it comes to teen girls, and perhaps this adds a sense of realism to this story, but frankly, by making our heroes treat her so poorly without any consequences or anyone to counteract it is almost condoning the behaviour and that’s a huge problem for me. To me, coming of age stories are also supposed to encourage the reader to relate to and learn from the experience. This was not the messaging I’d want anyone to learn.
I’ll admit I didn’t see the little twist in the ending and perhaps that kind of explains away the reason there was such an emphasis on certain things earlier on. That really came out of the blue for me, but it doesn’t really make up for the comments and the behaviour earlier on.
I wanted this to have a little Stand By Me feel, and it did for the most part, but there was a harshness to it that kind of kept me from fully enjoying it. Sadly, that harshness is likely the most realistic thing about this book, but I see enough of that in real life, I was hoping for something a bit more here.
february 7, 2017