Tuesday, April 8, 2014

Alcatraz Versus the Evil Librarians Book Review

Alcatraz Verses the 
Evil Librarians
Brandon Sanderson 

Rating (out of 5): 5
Genre: Fantasy 
Release Date: October 1, 2007
Series: Alcatraz
Series Volume: 1
Profanity: None
Violence: Mild
Sexual Content: None 
Age Recommendation: 8+
Author Website: http://brandonsanderson.com/

Summary (found on Amazon):

The evil Librarians are coming!

A hero with an incredible talent...for breaking things. A life-or-death mission...to rescue a bag of sand. A fearsome threat from a powerful secret network...the evil Librarians.

Alcatraz Smedry doesn't seem destined for anything but disaster. On his 13th birthday he receives a bag of sand, which is quickly stolen by the cult of evil Librarians plotting to take over the world. The sand will give the Librarians the edge they need to achieve world domination. Alcatraz must stop them!...by infiltrating the local library, armed with nothing but eyeglasses and a talent for klutziness.


My brother is in love with this author, but I haven't read him until now. On a recommendation from not one but two librarians (GASP I know) I decided to read this book. And I must say I was not displeased with how it turned out.

I started Alcatraz knowing only the title, but with a title like Alcatraz Versus the Evil Librarians who really needs a summary? And if the title doesn't hook you I guarantee the first chapter will. This book is really unlike anything I've read in a long time, and I'm hard pressed to find anything to compare it to.

Alcatraz has been in and out of foster homes all of his life and trouble seems to follow him wherever he goes. He has a remarkable ability to break things, and it has gotten him into a lot of trouble. On his thirteenth birthday he receives a bag of sand as his inheritance from his parents and meets his grandfather who proceeds to pull him into a world he never would have imagined. This world is one controlled by evil librarians and one where his talent of breaking things is considered a good thing, even if he is having trouble controlling it. His quest to recover his inheritance from the librarians who've stolen it is a wild one that takes readers deep into a library that is lit by lanterns shaped strangely like fruit, and populated not only by horned rimmed glasses wearing librarians but also by the occasional dinasour.

And I  haven't even mentioned the magical glasses that Alcatraz is lucky enough to be able to wield. There is so much to this story to give you an accurate description of everything I liked would be to spoil the whole book. This book is so crazy it's good. Alcatraz Versus the Evil Librarians doesn't take itself too seriously and is sure for a good laugh. It's a quick but fun read and I found myself flying through the pages laughing constantly. I haven't enjoyed a book this funny in a long time. Even in all of the book's hilarity it still has a coherent and interesting story.

Alcatraz Smedry, the narrator of this book, tells story from first person as a sort of autobiography. In his telling he is constantly interrupting for different reasons, often times to tell the reader something that doesn't even relate to what is going on. This was one of my favorite aspects of the book. I found myself looking forward to each new chapter and each new 'introduction' to the chapter. Alcatraz's monologs often had me rolling in laughter and many times I nodded my head in agreement with something he said (such as his description about authors and their delight in leaving cliffhangers for their readers) And his little references to things like See chapter 15 kept me jumping around looking at all the cleaver devices in the book. Not only that but this book is filled to the brim with references any fantasy fan would appreciate. There is so much going on it would seem like it's hard to keep up with, but that's just the opposite of how I felt. Even with all of the interruptions and references going on around the story I found the story easy to keep up with.

My favorite character by far is Alcatraz. It's not difficult for me to enjoy his quippy sarcastic, and awkward self. His voice is by far the strongest in the book simply because he is the narrator. But I think that even written in third person I still would like Alcatraz best, he's a very open and real character. His goal is to let readers know the real him, to give them the truth of who he is and I think that is one of the things I like best about him. A close second is Bastille who is a lot more than she first seems. The other characters are also enjoyable particularly Alcatraz's Grandfather. The villains are a little cardboardy but to be fair most of them don't get a lot of time in the book. The main two villains have some character and are interesting, if not likable.

Have I mentioned the world building in this book yet? No, well somehow amidst all of the fun Brandon Sanderson manages to build a wonderful world similar to ours but totally different as well. One of the best parts about this book is despite the crazy things that happen you can still imagine it being real. There is an explanation for everything that makes sense in the context of the book. The reader can really step into Alcatraz's world and feel like they could live there. Brandon's descriptions and Alcatraz's responses to what is going on around him really set the reader up to be willing to suspend their disbelief every time they open the book again to read.

There is nothing I did not like about this book, except that it was too short. But that is easily rectified by getting my hands on the next book, and the rest of the series.

Overall Alcatraz was a great read that I will recommend to anyone in need of a good laugh, or just a good book. It's great for kids to read but I think that adults may enjoy it more simply because they would catch more of the hints and references talked about in the book. I cannot stress enough how often this book made me laugh. The thing I like best about reading is getting to laugh and Alcatraz never let me down in this area. It truly lifted my spirits and gave me a great laugh without taxing my brain too much, and yet it still managed to keep my mind active as I plodded on through the story. As a short, quick read I give it a perfect score for what it hands out.

~ Dawn 

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