The year is 1987, and Billy Marvin is obsessed with two things: girls and video games. Video games, he can comprehend; he understands logic and the language that they’re written in. But when it comes to women, he can’t read the code; they’re an impossible cypher.
Billy’s best friends don’t share his love of computers, but when it comes to the obsession with women, they’re in it together. So when “Wheel of Fortune” star Vanna White ends up in the pages of Playboy, the boys have to get their hands on a copy. But to get past the cynical neighborhood newsstand owner, they’ll need homemade maps, detailed models and co-conspirators—and the store’s alarm code. That’s where Mary, the teenage daughter of the shop’s owner, comes into play. When Billy tells his friends that he’ll romance her to get the code, they’re skeptical, but Billy has a secret weapon: Mary is also a programming geek, and Billy has the perfect reason to spend time behind her computer. Soon, Billy is more interested in winning a coding contest with Mary than with getting his hands on the magazine. But can double-crossing his friends really be without consequence?
Impossible Fortress is the first book that Jason Rekulak has authored, but as the publisher of Quirk Books, he’s been involved in bringing hits like Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children and Pride and Prejudice and Zombies into the world. So it’s no surprise that Impossible Fortress strikes the perfect balance of strangeness and relatability; it’s nostalgic in all the right ways. It reminds us that sometimes relationships are like video games, where small actions have big consequences and we have to fail a few times before we succeed.