The Impossible Fortress

A Novel

The Impossible Fortress

  • 1

“A sweet, funny, and moving tribute to nerds and misfits everywhere.” —Seth Grahame-Smith, New York Times bestselling author of Pride and Prejudice and Zombies

Until May 1987, fourteen-year-old Billy Marvin of Wetbridge, New Jersey, is a nerd, but a decidedly happy nerd.

Afternoons are spent with his buddies, watching copious amounts of television, gorging on Pop-Tarts, debating who would win in a brawl (Rocky Balboa or Freddy Krueger? Bruce Springsteen or Billy Joel? Magnum P.I. Or T.J. Hooker?), and programming video games on his Commodore 64 late into the night. Then Playboy magazine publishes photos of Wheel of Fortune hostess Vanna White, Billy meets expert programmer Mary Zelinsky, and everything changes.

A love letter to the 1980s, to the dawn of the computer age, and to adolescence—a time when anything feels possible—The Impossible Fortress will make you laugh, make you cry, and make you remember in exquisite detail what it feels like to love something—or someone—for the very first time.
  • Simon & Schuster | 
  • 304 pages | 
  • ISBN 9781501144417 | 
  • February 2017
List Price $24.00 (price may vary by retailer)
In Stock: Usually ships within 1 business day
Buy from another retailer

Read an Excerpt

Hear an Excerpt

Reading Group Guide

This reading group guide for The Impossible Fortress includes an introduction, discussion questions, ideas for enhancing your book club, and a Q&A with author Jason Rekulak. The suggested questions are intended to help your reading group find new and interesting angles and topics for your discussion. We hope that these ideas will enrich your conversation and increase your enjoyment of the book.


May, 1987. Ronald Reagan is in the White House. Prince and Madonna are on the radio. And Playboy has just published scandalous photos of Wheel of Fortune hostess Vanna White.

For 14-year-old computer geek Billy Marvin, the magazine is a sort of holy grail—full of powerful secrets but impossible to attain. So Billy and his friends hatch an elaborate scheme to break into a neighborhood newsstand and steal it.

There’s just one catch: to complete the caper, Billy needs to learn the alarm passcode from the shopkeeper’s daughter, Mary Zelinsky. Smart, spirited, and funny, Mary proves to be the best computer programmer Billy has ever met—even better than Billy himself. He soon finds himself falling head over heels in love, all while planning a burglary that’s increasingly dangerous and increasingly beyond his control.

The Impossible Fortress is a hilarious debut that explores the confusing realities of adolescence—from first loves to the expectations of see more

About the Author

Jason Rekulak
Courtney Apple

Jason Rekulak

Jason Rekulak was born and raised in New Jersey. He has worked for many years at Quirk Books, where he edits a variety of fiction and nonfiction. He lives in Philadelphia with his wife and two children. The Impossible Fortress is his first novel. To learn more and play a version of The Impossible Fortress game, visit