"We stood up on our bikes and pumped our legs, pedaling faster, leaving behind the neighborhood and talk of our futures"
The 1980s are enjoying a long overdue renaissance through TV shows like Stranger Things celebrating all things analogue. The Impossible Fortress by Jason Rekulak is set firmly in this movement.
The story concerns 14 year old Will Marvin whose life revolves around music, film and 8-bit computer video games until the moment TV icon Vanna White appears in Playboy. Will's world begins to spin in a different direction as he and his friends become obsessed with getting hold of a copy of the magazine. They devise increasingly complicated schemes to procure the magazine from various stores in their home town of, aptly named, Wetbridge New Jersey.
Wetbridge is brilliantly portrayed by Rekulak as dullsville, a town in which the local cinema has only limited letters for their marquee meaning that films end up being renamed, like "LITTL SHP OV HORRS", for this unique New Jersey audience.
Mid caper Will meets Mary, a young computer nerd who works for her father in a shop that sells typewriter spares and a very limited range of basic home PCs. The plot develops like a Speilberg movie with the pair working together to help programme Will's own video game, The Impossible Fortress, which they enter into a regional contest.
The narrative moves like a classic platform style video game where the players must overcome various challenges to get to the next stage and the end reward. Readers can can actually play along at Rekulak's own website (http://jasonrekulak.com/game/) which brings a brilliantly conceived experiential aspect to the book - take note publishers.
The current trend for all things 1980s could well be driven by a need to escape to a time when relationships were defined by cassette mix tapes and fear by Stephen King novels but whatever the reason The Impossible Fortress is a brilliant read.
The book cover taps into the craze around the Netflix show Thirteen Reasons Why, surely no coincidence.
I read this novel in almost one sitting mostly at home in Oxfordshire.
The Impossible Fortress by Jason Rekulak published by Faber and Faber, 304 pages.
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