Review: The Fort

The morning after Hurricane Leo rips through the town of Canaan, residents awaken to widespread destruction — power outages, downed branches, uprooted trees, broken windows and damaged roofs. Four eighth-grade friends — Evan, Jason, Mitchell, and CJ — meet to explore the devastation. The tight-knit group is dismayed to find that Evan has brought along a stray — Ricky, who is new to their town and school, and doesn’t have any friends yet.

Ricky is the one to find the strange trap door that’s appeared in the middle of the woods — the door to an old bomb shelter, unearthed by the hurricane. Inside, the boys find a completely intact underground lair, complete with electricity, food, and entertainment (in the form of videocassettes). The boys vow to keep the place’s existence to themselves.

Things soon get tense. Some bad locals keep snooping around. And what started out as a fun place to escape soon becomes a serious refuge for one of the kids who is trying to avoid an abusive home situation. In order to save the shelter, the friends must keep its secret… and in order to save themselves, they’re going to have to share their individual secrets, and build the safest place they can.

This book was a real page-turner! I had a hard time putting it down, and when I had to, I couldn’t wait to get back to it. That’s how you know a book is good. And Korman doesn’t shy away from tough topics like bullying and domestic violence, which is admirable for a middle-grade book.

The book gives us each of the five boys’ point-of-view for the story, and it’s interesting how he makes each of the five sound so different. Each of them has something to deal with, whether it’s bullying, a delinquent older sibling, being the new kid, OCD, or trouble at home, and it all sort of links together when they find this underground fort. At first, it’s their fun place to just hang out after school, but it soon becomes a refuge for a couple of them – a necessary one.

While it seems like the book has too much going on, it doesn’t. Everything is linked in some way or another, and brings the whole story together. The boys are all great, fun characters, and it’s easy to sympathize with them as they’re going through these issues while trying to keep their fort a secret. After all, they just want a place to escape. Is that too much to ask?

This was by far one of the best middle grade contemporary books I’ve read in a while, and I highly recommend it. I know the review is short, but that’s because I don’t want to give too much away. Just trust me when I say it’s a very good book.

Rating: 4.5/5 stars

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