Get your first book for just $9.99.

Join today!

We’ll make this quick.

We’ll make this quick.

First, enter your email. Then choose your move.

By pressing "Pick a book now" or "Pick a book later", you agree to Book of the Month’s Terms of use and Privacy policy.

Get your first book for just $9.99.

Join today!
undefined

You did it!

You did it!

Your account is now up to date.

get the appget the app

Our app is where it’s at.

Unlock our Reading Challenge, earn prizes, and get notified of new books on our app.

Our app is where it’s at.

Unlock our Reading Challenge, earn prizes, and get notified of new books on our app.

get the ios appget the android app

Already have the app? Explore here.

get the ios appget the android app
The Impossible Fortress by Jason Rekulak

Sci-fi

The Impossible Fortress

Debut

We love supporting debut authors. Congrats, Jason Rekulak, on your first book!

by Jason Rekulak

Excellent choice

Excellent choice

Just enter your email to add this book to your box.

By pressing "Add to box", you agree to Book of the Month’s Terms of use and Privacy policy.

Quick take

When you’re trapped in the prison of adolescence, you only want to break out, like the hero of an old Atari game.

Why I love it

Being a 14 year-old, for lack of a better word, sucks. Everything seems to be changing around you and inside you. You have to worry about your future for the first time; suddenly every grade matters (even P.E.!), and everyone seems to have a test for you nearly every day, school-related or not. And then you somehow have to navigate the newly complex social circles of high school, dodging bullies and figuring out how to interact with members of the opposite sex.

Billy Marvin, the protagonist of The Impossible Fortress, is facing all of these problems head-on. And what’s worse? He’s doing so in 1987 at the dawn of the computer age. He can’t rely on email for his communication (CompuServe messages, after all, were not instant). And as a semi-closeted computer geek, Billy has to keep much of his interests in computer programming to himself, since his best friends are too obsessed with fast-forwarding Kramer vs. Kramer to spot a brief nude scene or developing an elaborate heist to procure the coveted issue of Playboy that features a spread of Vanna White.

There’s enough '80s nostalgia in The Impossible Fortress to rival Stranger Things, but Rekulak’s debut novel isn’t just a book for '80s babies'—it’s a book for anyone who ever felt like a weirdo as a teenager. Or whose friendships were based on proximity rather than common interests. Billy’s stuck there, although he does find an unexpected friend in Mary Zelinsky—a girl, sure, but someone who shares his passion for computers and building games.

As Billy and Mary teach themselves code and complete their first video game opus in order to compete in an old school programming competition. I couldn’t help but remember my own teenage years. I was more into reading books than computers, but I was, like Billy, uninterested in what most of my peers liked to do (playing sports and scheming to see boobs). The Impossible Fortress makes Billy’s seemingly fleeting desires and frustrations feel real and poignant. When you’re trapped in the prison of adolescence, you only want to break out, like the hero of an old Atari game—even if all of that angst seems pretty hilarious in hindsight.

Member ratings (1,203)

  • Scott K.

    Lincoln, NE

    Amazing book, literally couldnt put it down, finished it in about 5 hours. One if the most relatable books I’ve ever read. Really like to see more books like this available through Book of the Month.

  • Jane G.

    Milwaukee, WI

    Suddenly it's 1987. The world of computers consists of green screens, joysticks + BASIC. The tech might be 80's specific, but the emotional experience of being a slightly awkward 14 yr old is timeless

  • Enrico F.

    Lake Ronkonkoma, NY

    Excellent and fun book to read. The concept of bringing back 80's technology with a unique twist was amazing. As you continue to read through the book you quickly start to think about past memories.

  • Kayla W.

    Fort Washington, MD

    So cute and creative. This book dealt with a very deep issue at the end, and there was enough suspense being built up by the boys' heist in the story that it kept me reading to see what would happen.

  • Erika S.

    Austin, TX

    I loved this throwback book - so many references to the 80's. I learned so much about the beginnings of the computer era and its games. I was actually inspired to learn coding after it. READ THIS BOOK

Sci-fi
Upgrade
The Ministry of Time
Severance
The End of October
An Absolutely Remarkable Thing
Dark Matter
Ready Player Two
Recursion
We Could Be Heroes
The Municipalists
Camp Zero
Golden State
Early Riser
Sci-fi
View all
Upgrade
The Ministry of Time
Severance
The End of October
An Absolutely Remarkable Thing
Dark Matter
Ready Player Two
Recursion
We Could Be Heroes
The Municipalists
Camp Zero
Golden State
Early Riser