Alcatraz vs. the Evil Librarians is the first in Brandon Sanderson’s rather infamous middle grade series. This is the series that devote fans try to read and seem to either love or hate. It is very different from his adult fantasy and even his YA, but it is wonderful for those of us who already love quirky and strange middle grade! It’s being rereleased by Tor with new covers and lovely matching interior illustrations. I can’t recommend it for all Sanderson fans, but if you want to try something completely different or you already love the occasional middle grade, this first book is a whole lot of fun.
Note: I received an advanced copy of Alcatraz vs. the Evil Librarians from the publisher. Some things may have changed in the final version.
Alcatraz vs. the Evil Librarians by Alcatraz Smedry, Brandon Sanderson (Alcatraz #1)
Published by Starscape on Feb. 16th, 2016
Genres: Contemporary Fantasy, MG
Page Length: 320 pages
How I got my copy: Publisher
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On his thirteenth birthday, foster child Alcatraz Smedry gets a bag of sand in the mail-his only inheritance from his father and mother. He soon learns that this is no ordinary bag of sand. It is quickly stolen by the cult of evil Librarians who are taking over the world by spreading misinformation and suppressing truth. Alcatraz must stop them, using the only weapon he has: an incredible talent for breaking things.
- The first thing that stood out to me in this book is the delightful snarkiness of Alcatraz. He is quite insistent that he isn’t a good person and definitely not a hero. I don’t think I’ve ever encountered an anti-hero in middle grade, but I think that Alcatraz would quite like that label ;-).
- So have you seen Deadpool? Loved how he didn’t just break but completely vaporized the fourth wall? Alcatraz is the same way, but with less swearing. He speaks directly to the reader and makes a whole lot of meta-comments on the story and the writing process in general. You can definitely tell that Sanderson needed a palate cleanser and wanted to get all his random writing thoughts snuck into a book. If you are an aspiring published author, I think this book is worth reading just for those thoughts!
- The fantasy world that Alcatraz is thrown into is fascinating and fun. What if there were actually continents in the Pacific and Atlantic oceans and there was a great conspiracy keeping us unaware of them? The magic and magical technology used by the people fighting the great librarian conspiracy are classic Sanderson-style unique and awesome.
- There are a lot of illustrations woven throughout this story, in the same style as the new covers, and they really add something. There are full page spread illustrations to depict scenes and add details not specifically described in the text. I’m such a sucker for interior illustrations!
- If you’ve read The Reckoners trilogy, you know how David’s humor is a bit strange but also kind of extra funny because of that quirkiness. Alcatraz’s humor reminded me a lot of that. I think that Sanderson secretly makes these kinds of jokes in his head all day and just tries to act normal on the outside, ha.
- Despite Alcatraz’s warnings, he still ended up grating on me a bit. It was the feeling where a friend that is normally snarky and entertaining in his crabbiness just takes it too far, ya know?
- Along with his claims to be evil, Alcatraz will pause in his descriptions of action scenes to thrown in random thoughts and observations. This does get rather annoying (and evil!) when you just want to find out what happens! I think Alcatraz would be delighted by this, but I felt the need to warn you all.
Alcatraz vs. the Evil Librarians is a unique middle grade fantasy with classic Sanderson fantasy elements mixed with meta-comments on writing and a very snarky character. If you like quirky middle grade and don’t mind anti-hero protagonists, I think this is a series that will greatly entertain you. However, it is clearly not for every Sanderson fan, you’ve been warned!
See for yourself:
Have you read this one? What did you think? Are you excited for it if you haven’t gotten to it yet?
Alcatraz vs. the Evil Librarians by Brandon Sanderson (pseudonym for Alcatraz Smedry)
© 2016, Anya. All rights reserved.