The Impossible Fortress by Jason Rekulak provides an interesting look at the advent of young computer programmers in the 1980's. Adolescents who were not only fascinated by computers and games, but strongly predisposed to find beauty in writing code.
Fourteen-year-old Billy Marvin has two main interests: 1) writing programs for his own games, and 2) (along with his buddies Alf and Clark) getting hold of the latest Playboy Magazine with Vanna White as the centerfold.
The boys are often amusing with their 1980's teenage angst, and because they are not old enough to buy a copy of the Vanna White issue, concoct a number of elaborate and doomed-to-failure plans to get a copy of the coveted magazine.
As various schemes fail or are discarded, the boys grow more desperate, and a plan evolves in which Billy is to seduce Mary Zelinsky, whose father owns the shop that sells the magazine. The idea is to get the security code from Mary so the boys can get into the shop, grab the magazine, and leave enough money to pay for it.
Mary is an even more accomplished novice programmer than Billy, and his real mission is to get Mary to help him with a game he wants to develop. His agreement with the seduction plan is motivated by the contest Mary has told him about--the best game could win a prize from an admired game designer and possibly a future in programming.
While the premise has many great opportunities, ultimately, I found The Impossible Fortress deviated into something I didn't much care for. The heist, when it finally happened, almost prevented me from finishing the book.
My final assessment: there are amusing portions at the beginning, but the characters failed to make me truly like or care about them and the plot felt hollow.
Maybe I was expecting too much.
Read in November; blog review scheduled for Jan. 21, 2017.
NetGalley/Simon & Schuster
YA. Feb. 7, 2017. Print length: 304 pages.
Behind Her Eyes is a suspenseful and twisty novel that kept me off balance trying to come to grips with the characters.
Louise, David, and Adele form a strange triangle that works in different ways. Louise, a single mom, has an almost fling with a man she meets in a bar. The next day, she discovers that the man in the bar is her new boss. David is married to Adele and the marriage is complicated to say the least. (A whole lot of controlling goin' on.) Adele and Louise bump into each other on the street and form a friendship. Oops.
A triangle of dumb, and dumber, and wicked. Difficult to tell at times who is dumb and who is wicked as the perspectives change from chapter to chapter. What a stew of dangerous emotions.
It's one of those novels that is hard to put down, that keeps moving from one pov to another and from past to present, with a some "OMG-- you are so dense!" moments, a bit of astral projection, and a twist that you are only gradually prepared for at the end.
So...few people will be able to put it down because the need to know is so strong. Some will be pleased with the twist at the end, admiring the author's manipulation of the narrative to keep the reader curious and uncertain. Unsympathetic characters; twisted relationships; a necessary supernatural element to make the novel work. Shades of Edgar Cayce.
Mystery/Psychological? Jan. 31, 2017. Print length: 320 pages.