Friday, May 20, 2016

FANTASTIC FRIDAY: Alcatraz vs. the Evil Librarians by Brandon Sanderson


Alcatraz Versus the Evil Librarians is the first adventure in a fantasy series for young readers by the #1 New York Times bestselling author Brandon Sanderson. The fast-paced and funny series is now available in deluxe hardcover editions illustrated by Hayley Lazo.

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.

"In this original, hysterical homage to fantasy literature, Sanderson's first novel for youth recalls the best in Artemis Fowl and A Series of Unfortunate Events."


Alcatraz turned out to be quite different than I was expecting.  The beginning startled me a little bit with the main character (Alcatraz) as the author, telling me that he wasn't a hero and his was a tale of cowardice.  I found this rather intriguing of course so I eagerly kept reading.  It was clear from the beginning of his story that Alcatraz had a rather distorted view of himself (don't we all?) that came in part from living in so many foster homes.  But his talent of breaking things just by touching them and starting a fire and then waiting a few minutes to put it out hooked me and I had to find out why this young man behaved the way he did.

The arrival of Grandpa Smedry and Alcatraz's rather startling discovery that what he'd long considered a curse (his breaking ability) was actually a talent similar to talents that many others in his family possessed. Of course, this first meeting with his grandfather takes a turn for the strange when someone turns up and tries to kill him.  This sends Alcatraz on a quest he never intended and into a very strange new set of circumstances. I was fascinated by the author's new take on the world.  Alcatraz learns that a librarian conspiracy has kept the world in ignorance of what his grandfather calls the Free Kingdoms, continents and countries that don't show up on 'librarian' controlled maps. 

Having lost something important previous to his grandpa's appearance, Alcatraz and the others are forced to invade the local library at great risk to themselves, and great reluctance on Alcatraz's part.  Plenty of fantasy elements come to life here but are mixed with real life in rather bizarre and amusing ways.  Alcatraz's asides about the writing profession and the 'tricks' authors use led me to snicker quite often as I read the book.  I am definitely going to be reading the rest of the series and recommend that you do as well.  These new additions have appealing new covers and interesting (and sometimes false) illustrations.


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