Rating:

impossible fortress book coverReviewed by Carrie Ardoin

The year is 1987, and in the world of 14-year-old Billy, Clark, and Alf, nothing is more important than getting their hands on the recently published, scandalous pictures of Vanna White appearing in Playboy. The boys, somewhat outcasts, come up with ways to get their hands on the magazine…settling on the idea that Billy should romance the newsstand owner’s daughter so that he might gain the security code and they then would break into the shop and steal themselves a copy.

Convoluted? Yes. But there was more than one circumstance in which the characters seem to go through tremendous effort to carry out their bad decisions. They even built a scale model of the buildings so they could visualize the break-in. For 14-year-old boys, this is asking a lot.

I was born in the 80’s, so while I appreciate all the references and throwback pop culture, I wasn’t actually in the midst of it back then. Maybe teenage boys back then really WERE that desperate to see naked pictures. It just seemed very farfetched to me.

The break-in aside, I started to really have a problem with the relentless teasing the boys did, to each other, and the girl aforementioned, named Mary. When Billy does start to actually get close to Mary and develop real feelings for her, he can’t even share this with his friends because the girl happens to be overweight. Nevermind that she’s smart as a whip and instantly offers to help Billy with his computer programming obsession. But then again, for boys who are going this far to see nude photos, I shouldn’t be surprised.

I did go through most of the novel actually liking Billy, even though he’s somewhat simple, but then he seemed to flip a switch in his personality and turn out to be a lot like his friends. He does try hard to redeem himself, but in my opinion the story line wraps up his indiscretions a little too neatly, and I didn’t feel hat he really had to pay for anything he did wrong.

There was a twist I thought was interesting, but the more I think about it now, the more it makes me rather angry. I don’t want to spoil things by writing about it in my review, but this twist seems more of a convenient plot device than something that was important and progressed the story.

Although I finished The Impossible Fortress quickly, I am not really excited about having read it. Sometimes I can find books written by men eye opening and intriguing, but this one was shallow.


Carrie runs the blog Sweet Southern Home, and is a stay at home wife and mom to one little boy. When she’s not reading, she’s usually watching Netflix with her husband, playing outside with her son, or baking. Her family would describe her as sometimes annoyingly sarcastic, but mostly lovable. 

Review copy was provided free of any obligation by Simon and Schuster. No monetary or any other form of compensation was received.