The Impossible Fortress by Jason Rekulak

Sometimes a book is so endearing and nostalgic to teenage years that you can’t help getting brought along for the ride. For me, The Impossible Fortress by Jason Rekulak is one of these stories. The book feels like a shout-out to all the teenagers  who feel out of place and awkward.

Billy is a fourteen-year-old teenager who spends most of his time hanging out with his friends, playing video games, and thinking about girls while also avoiding them. Despite having terrible grades in school, Billy’s brilliant with computers and has taught himself to code his own games.

When an edition of Playboy is released featuring Vanna White, Billy and his two best friends will do just about anything to see the photos. Because they’re under eighteen (and cannot legally purchase the magazine), they develop an elaborate plot to get their hands on a copy. In the process, Billy meets Mary Zelinsky and everything changes. She’s an expert programmer and together they develop The Impossible Fortress, a video game, to enter in a large competition. Of course the plan gets off track and Billy finds himself torn between what he knows is right and peer pressure.

One of the major themes of the book is sharing what it feels like to be a teenager when anything feels possible and you’re at the beginning of rest of your life. I really felt for Billy, a shy, hopeful, and at times, naïve kid. Despite his principal openly telling him that his future is drear and video game programming isn’t a career option, he works even harder to complete The Impossible Fortress. I was rooting for him!

In the end I was a bit confused about Mary’s motivations (Jason Rekulak, I have a few questions for you!) that I don’t feel were well explained, but overall this book is really good! The Impossible Fortress shares many similarities with Ready Player One by Ernest Cline (which I really liked as well) and I recommend both!

I thought this quote sums up Billy’s teenage temperament well:

“I didn’t try to compete with either of them. All I knew was that I didn’t know anything.”

 

 

Advertisements

Ready Player One by Ernest Cline

Ready Player One by Ernest ClineWhat does it mean when you’re flight’s delayed? This past weekend it meant that I had more time to read! With the extra time, I was able to dive into Ready Player One by Ernest Cline, a sci-fi novel set in the year 2044.

USA Today describes the story pretty perfectly:

“Enchanting…Willy Wonka meets The Matrix.” – USA Today

In this story, Earth has plummeted into decay and Cline paints a horrifying picture through his “stacks”, trailers that are stacked up on top of each other and are only stabilized by weak metal pipe structures.

People escape this harsh reality through Oasis, a virtual world where people can be whoever, or whatever, they want. The creator of Oasis, James Halliday, has passed away and left behind the challenge of a lifetime. Whoever can solve his highly complex scavenger hunt filled with puzzles, video game challenges, and 80’s pop culture trivia, will win Halliday’s fortune and control of Oasis. Wade Watts, an anti-social teenager, finds himself catapulted into fame when he finds the first piece of Halliday’s puzzle.

As someone who is not very savvy in video game jargon, I thought Cline did a pretty good job of keeping technical descriptions straightforward. Despite a few scenes where my mind wandered in the face of ultra-detailed descriptions, I was able to keep up for the most part.

I don’t read a lot of sci-fi books, but I enjoyed Ready Player One. The story was interesting, the dialogue was entertaining and the topics were relatable. Cline brought depth to the story by touching on issues that the world is dealing with today, including global warming, pollution, monopoly power, and the risks that technology presents to overpower our lives so much so that we forget to live in reality.