Book Review: The Impossible Fortress by Jason Rekulak

Popsugar 2019 Reading Challenge Prompt:  A book revolving around a puzzle or game TW: Fat-shaming, sexual ideology (with teens), br...

Popsugar 2019 Reading Challenge Prompt: A book revolving around a puzzle or game

TW: Fat-shaming, sexual ideology (with teens), breaking & entering, theft

I chose The Impossible Fortress as a Book of the Month selection over two years ago and finally picked it up for the #unreadbotmchallenge I've been referencing since the start of the year. I was excited to delve in. A book about the 80s and video games - it seemed right up my alley. I was hoping I'd have a similar vibe to Ready Player One, which I loved so much. Unfortunately, that wasn't totally the case.

The novel focuses on 14-year old Billy and his group of misfit friends (Alf and Clark), who are attempting any and everything they can in order to get their hands on a copy of the newest edition of Playboy - the one with Vanna White on the cover. In their attempt to get the magazine, Billy meets Mary, a 14-year old computer programming girl who he immediately likes but is too embarrassed to tell his friends, so instead becomes involved in a plan to use her to get what they want. 

So I kind of got it, right? This was historically 80s themed, and really like all of the best high school rom-coms from the 80s and 90s. A groups of guys makes some kind of deal that includes lying to an "unpopular girl" so they can get something out of her or win some bet with their friends, right? Yes, those are problematic - but I'd be lying if I said I didn't enjoy those types of movies. But here's the deal with this book - it's fairly current, released in 2017. It was very obviously problematic when it was written. And it just goes too far. There are almost two whole pages in a row of fat jokes. It's too harsh and too excessive.

Not to mention the way the book wraps up - I can't even complain about it fully without giving major spoilers. But I was so bothered.

"And the closeness of her made everything on screen seem amplified. The colors were brighter, and the sound was louder, the percussion rattled my core." - The Impossible Fortress, Jason Rekulak

The kicker is - the plot is fine. I would've been okay with them picking on the girl because it's the 80s and she's a programmer - computers were for nerds then. I was fine with the fight for the Playboy. And the writing? It was so good. It was enthralling. But I finished the book full of disappointment. I wouldn't recommend.

Goodreads rating: ★★☆☆☆

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  1. Well, at least you finished reading it. I gave up about 20% of the way through, and never looked back. I guess I was right to not bother...

    1. It was such a stressful book to read. The overall plot was fine, but the details were way too harsh. :(