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Alcatraz vs. the Evil Librarians #1

Alcatraz Versus the Evil Librarians

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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.

308 pages, Hardcover

First published October 1, 2007

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About the author

Brandon Sanderson

401 books203k followers
Brandon’s major books for the second half of 2016 are The Dark Talent, the final volume in Alcatraz Smedry’s autobiographical account of his battle against the Evil Librarians who secretly rule our world, and Arcanum Unbounded, the collection of short fiction in the Cosmere universe that includes the Mistborn series and the Stormlight
Archive, among others. This collection features The Emperor’s Soul, Mistborn: Secret History, and a brand-new Stormlight Archive novella, Edgedancer.

Earlier this year he released Calamity, the finale of the #1 New York Times bestselling Reckoners trilogy that began with Steelheart .

Brandon Sanderson was born in 1975 in Lincoln, Nebraska. As a child Brandon enjoyed reading, but he lost interest in the types of titles often suggested to him, and by junior high he never cracked a book if he could help it. This changed when an eighth grade teacher gave him Dragonsbane by Barbara Hambly.

Brandon was working on his thirteenth novel when Moshe Feder at Tor Books bought the sixth he had written. Tor has published Elantris, the Mistborn trilogy and its followup The Alloy of Law, Warbreaker, and The Way of Kings and Words of Radiance, the first two in the planned ten-volume series The Stormlight Archive. He was chosen to complete Robert Jordan’s Wheel of Time series; 2009’s The Gathering Storm and 2010’s Towers of Midnight were followed by the final book in the series, A Memory of Light, in January 2013. Four books in his middle-grade Alcatraz vs. the Evil Librarians series have been released in new editions by Starscape, and his novella Infinity Blade Awakening was an ebook bestseller for Epic Games accompanying their acclaimed Infinity Blade iOS video game series. Two more novellas, Legion and The Emperor’s Soul, were released by Subterranean Press and Tachyon Publications in 2012, and 2013 brought two young adult novels, The Rithmatist from Tor and Steelheart from Delacorte.

The only author to make the short list for the David Gemmell Legend Award six times in four years, Brandon won that award in 2011 for The Way of Kings. The Emperor’s Soul won the 2013 Hugo Award for Best Novella. He has appeared on the New York Times Best-Seller List multiple times, with five novels hitting the #1 spot.

Currently living in Utah with his wife and children, Brandon teaches creative writing at Brigham Young University.

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Displaying 1 - 30 of 4,254 reviews
Profile Image for Patrick.
Author 62 books232k followers
January 12, 2015
For the record: listened to this one on audio.

This book is what you'd expect from Sanderson. Good story. Nice rapid plot. An interesting well-orchestrated cosmology. And a cool magic system that's central to the story.

Two things of special note:

1. Unlike most of Sanderson's other work, this book is aimed at a YA audience. I still enjoyed it. But if you're looking for a grim, 800-page tome, this isn't it.

2. This book is fairly meta, especially for YA. It's first person, but the narrator regularly intrudes and talks about what he's doing in the writing of the book. Why he's writing what he's writing. The narrative conventions he's using.

It's an interesting addition to a story, and certainly nothing I ever ran into when I was reading as a kid.
Profile Image for carol..
1,535 reviews7,874 followers
September 9, 2016
Also known as The Official Author's Notes for The Way of Kings.

Stay with me.

The first clue is in Chapter 2. "I've been many things in my life. Student. Spy. Sacrifice. Potted plant. However, at this point, I'm something completely different from all of those--something more frightening than any of them. I'm a writer."

He gives structural tips (and a hint as to his personality):
"You may have noticed that I began my story with a quick, snappy scene of danger and tension--but then quickly moved on to a more boring discussion of my childhood. Well, that's because I wanted to prove something to you: that I'm not a nice person."

He boldly states how he would like you to read:
"I would ask you to kindly refrain from drawing conclusions that I don't explicitly tell you to make. That's a very bad habit, and it makes authors grumpy."

Unsurprisingly, he trumpets the importance of his work:
"Remember, despite the fact that this book is being sold as a 'fantasy' novel, you must take all of the things it says extremely seriously, as they are quite important, are in no way silly, and always make sense."

He explains his plot devices to engage the reader:
"I've worked very hard--perhaps I will explain why later--to frustrate you. One of the ways I do this is by leaving cliff hangers at the ends of chapters. These sorts of things force you, the reader, to keep on plunging through my story."
He does this despite further elaboration that a hook at the beginning of a book is an 'unexcusable' trick, and that "I have it on good authority that when an author gives a hook like this, he isn't ever likely to explain why...and, if the explanation does come, it won't arrive until the end of the story."

Ultimately, he expresses his writing goal, which should have been quite obvious if you follow the Way of Kings ten book series, now up to book two: "Authors write books for one, and only one reason: because we like to torture people." He continues: "Authors also create lovable, friendly characters--then proceed to do terrible things to them... This makes readers feel hurt and worried for the characters. The simple truth is that authors like making people squirm."

Given my concerns with Way of Kings, I appreciated his notes regarding time in novels: "Three chapters is an awfully long time in book terms. You see, time moves differently in novels. The author could, for instance, say, "And I spent fourteen years in prison...." Now this sounds like it would be a great deal of time--fourteen years--but it actually only took one sentence to explain. So, therefore, it happened very quickly. Three chapters, on the other hand, is a very long time."

And a final bon mot on pacing:
"Now, if you are ever writing a story such as this, you should know something. Never interrupt the flow of a good action scene by interjecting needless explanations. I did this once, in Chapter Fourteen of an otherwise very exciting story. I regret it to this day."

I tell you, I gained tremendous insight into The Way of Kings.

But I know what you are going to say:

I read it wrong.

My review for Way of Kings: https://www.goodreads.com/review/show...

P.S. I really enjoyed the polite dinosaurs.

Profile Image for Nicole.
444 reviews13.4k followers
March 19, 2023
Zaczynam się zastanawiać czy nie zaniżam ocen książkom czytanym przez Macieja Kowalika…
Profile Image for Twila.
128 reviews115 followers
May 21, 2017

Heads up! Goodreads librarian agents might try to get this review taken down at any moment! They definitely don’t want me exposing all their secretly nefarious ways, but at long last, I give to you the truth:

Fact #1: This book is NOT written by Brandon Sanderson.

This is NOT “fantasy”. Don’t be fooled. It is written by Alcatraz Smedry—grandson of Oculator Dramatus, Leavenworth Smedry. His editor only made him use Sanderson’s name to keep away librarian attention. This is Alcatraz’s autobiography, okay?! Nonfiction!

Fact #2: Librarians are evil.

I should have known. They always made me feel uncomfortable with all their staring and constant hovering while in libraries. Now I know the reason for their insistent vigilance. They are making sure this book and others like it stay out of public hands! That's pretty much how they rule the world. They control all the information and supposed “knowledge” given to us—info that we sadly just accept. But I’m not being restricted from the truth any longer. They kept this book a secret from me for years, but now that I have it, I’m holding it tight.

Fact #3: The Smedrys are civilization’s only hope!

They’ve been trying to save us from total domination by using their special powers called “Talents”. Talents can range from anything like being terrible at math to waking up extremely ugly to tripping in fantastically glorious ways. Alcatraz has the breaking Talent. HE CAN BREAK THINGS WITH THE FORCE OF HIS MIND. How epic! And he’s about to face his toughest challenge yet, infiltrating his downtown library—an extremely dangerous place—to retrieve a lost bag of sand and save the world. Oh yeah.

So there you have it. The truth. Strange, right? Brilliantly strange. And weird. But not only is Alcatraz’s story incredibly funny and jam-packed with action, it’s filled with heart as well. Underneath all the fun humour and cringeworthy puns, this is story that surprisingly carries across subtle messages about responsibility and courage, trust and self-confidence—all while you’ll be laughing out loud.

It actually felt somewhat meaningful, but anyway, back to the important stuff. The Librarians want to control the entire world. We can’t let them. Will you join me in the fight to stop their evil cult?

Go read it and help me spread the word! GO! GO!

P.S. To all my librarian friends: Please don't hate me for exposing you. I know you're evil and all, but I love you guys.
Profile Image for TS Chan.
699 reviews868 followers
April 29, 2022
Brandon Sanderson can write an instruction manual for a lawnmower and I’ll read it. (I actually have no reason at all to know how to use a lawnmower since I live in a high-rise condominium).

I only started reading the Alcatraz series after I’ve run out of Sanderson's adult and YA fantasy books to read, and these books quickly became bite-sized guilty pleasures on account of how hilarious and ridiculous they are.

In the Hushlands—those Librarian-controlled nations such as the United States, Canada, and England—this book will be published as a work of fantasy. Do not be fooled! This is no work of fiction, nor is my name really Brandon Sanderson. Both are guises to hide the book from Librarian agents. Unfortunately, even with these precautions, I suspect that the Librarians will discover the book and ban it. In that case, our Free Kingdom Agents will have to sneak into libraries and bookstores to put it on shelves. Count yourself lucky if you’ve found one of these secret copies.

So essentially, the real world as we know it is controlled by evil Librarians who keep the real deal/information away from the general population. Underneath the cover-up is a more fantastical existence where a certain lineage of people (i.e. the Smedry's) have seemingly ordinary 'abilities' like breaking things, being late, spouting gibberish and tripping; abilities which are called Talents that can be controlled and utilised as an advantage. How this works is frankly quite brilliant and instead of explaining it, let me point you to the nearest bookstore (online or otherwise) to get hold of this book and read it already.

The map of world as we (did not) know it

I am pretty sure that I don’t have to mention that Sanderson has yet again conjured a cool magic system for this series, and demonstrated the magic in his usual well-crafted action scenes. In this series, it involves sand and ocular lenses. How? Just read it and find out!

The main character, Alcatraz Smedry is written in a first person, fourth-wall breaking perspective. His POV is sarcastic, witty and gives the impression that he can be an unreliable narrator. Each chapter also begins with asides and jabs regarding books and authors, all which ring true.

A few examples:

It is a writer’s greatest pleasure to hear that someone was kept up until the unholy hours of the morning reading one of his books. Plus we get a kickback from the caffeine industry.
Hooks and cliffhangers belong only at the ends of chapters. That way, the reader moves on directly to the next page—where, thankfully, they can read more of the story without having to suffer some sort of mindless interruption. Honestly, authors can be so self-indulgent.
The ending of a book is, in my experience, both the best and the worst part to read. For the ending will often determine whether you love or hate the book. Both emotions lead to disappointment. If the ending was good, and the book was worth your time, then you are left annoyed and depressed because there is no more book to read. However, if the ending was bad, then it’s too late to stop reading. You’re left annoyed and depressed because you wasted so much time on a book with a bad ending.

What else is there? There are references to Sanderson’s own works and of other authors’ peppered throughout the story, which add to the fun factor. This new edition also has great illustrations that truly enhance the enjoyment of the book. The typical back matter, "About The Author" and "Acknowledgements", is anything but typical.

Here's Grandpa!

This is a book and series targeted for the young readers as well as adults who want to kick back with some silly, yet quite smart, humour. Character development was adequate in spite of the shorter narrative and I already have a favourite in Grandpa Smedry by the end of this novel. The writing is relatively simple but not condescendingly so in spite of the target middle grade audience. Given that it is a lot shorter than your typical Sanderson doorstopper, the pacing was brisk and action scenes were plenty and fun. It's like a light and fruity dessert after a heavy meal.

This review can also be found at Booknest
Profile Image for Choko.
1,200 reviews2,583 followers
August 18, 2018
*** 4 ***

A buddy read with the young at heart folks at BBB!

This sucks!!! I had written a review, I had made it funny and adorable, as well as recommended this book not only to the middle graders for whom it was written, but also to all those who enjoy a fantastical adventure written with such wonderful flare and wit, that you have no choice but fall in love with it and wonder why the heck did you wait so long to get to this brilliant series!!!! I had written it, but somehow it has gotten lost in the twilight zone of GR....

I am not planning to try and write another marvelous review, since I only write them at the moment when I complete the read, thus infusing them with my emotions at the moment... However, I will tell you that the book's protagonist is the 13 year old Alcatraz Smedry, a boy with a very special talent - he can break almost everything he comes in contact with, usually without even wanting to... He is also a writer.

...It is a writer's greatest pleasure to hear that someone was kept up until the unholy hours of the morning reading one of his books. It goes back to authors being terrible people who delight in the suffering of others. Plus, we get a kickback from the caffeine industry...”

...“Authors also create lovable, friendly characters, then proceed to do terrible things to them, like throw them in unsightly librarian-controlled dungeons. This makes readers feel hurt and worried for the characters. The simple truth is that authors like making people squirm. If this weren't the case, all novels would be filled completely with cute bunnies having birthday parties.”...

Hey, those are his words, not mine....

So, the world we live in, apparently, is not at all what we think. What we think we know about our world has been force-fed to us by the most evil of Evil Cults - The Cult of the Evil Librarians!!! After all, what better way to feed us faulty knowledge than take over the Libraries and all educational facilities and books, thus making us believe whatever They want... ? Exactly!!!

...“So, there I was, tied to an altar made from outdated encyclopedias, about to get sacrificed to the dark powers by a cult of evil Librarians.”...

Hmmm, I am going too deep... Needles to say, the books we read are mostly lies, thus evil, and Alcatraz is here to open our eyes to the truth!!! So, instead of me telling you how important it is for you to read this series, let me finish with Alcatraz's own words:

.... Actually, my experience has been that people generally don’t recommend this kind of book at all. It is far too interesting. Perhaps you have had other kinds of books recommended to you. Perhaps, even, you have been given books by friends, parents, or teachers, then told that these books are the type you “have to read.” Those books are invariably described as “important” – which, in my experience, pretty much means that they’re boring. (Words like meaningful and thoughtful are other good clues.) If there is a boy in these kinds of books, he will not go on an adventure to fight against Librarians, paper monsters, and one-eyed Dark Oculators.

In fact, the lad will not go on an adventure or fight against anything at all. Instead, his dog will die. Or, in some cases, his mother will die. If it’s a really meaningful book, both his dog and his mother will die. (Apparently, most writers have something against dogs and mothers.)”...

I wish all of you Happy reading and don't get caught by the Evil Librarians!!!
Profile Image for Robin (Bridge Four).
1,607 reviews1,481 followers
September 7, 2016
On sale Sept 7 2016 on Amazon for $2.99

Buddy Read with Buddies Books and Baubles and the Sandersonitus gang.

Did you know that Librarians were evil??? I’ve always suspected but didn’t know just how deep the conspiracy went until I read this book.

What does a writer do when he needs to get the creative juices going and take a break from one of the many serious tombs he is writing? Well if he is Brandon Sanderson he writes something completely and utterly different and a bit silly and makes fun of himself a little while doing it.
Now, you’re probably wondering about the beginning of the previous chapter, with its reference to evil Librarians, altars made from encyclopedias, and its general feeling of “Oh, no! Alcatraz is going to be sacrificed!” Before we get to this, let me explain something about myself. I’ve been many things in my life. Student. Spy. Sacrifice. Potted plant. However, at this point, I’m something completely different from all of those—something more frightening than any of them.
I’m a writer.

As an adult in my *cough*fouthir*cough*ties Middle Grade books aren’t my bread and butter. I actually rarely read them. HOWEVER….there are a few writers that can make a middle grade book just as fun for the adults as the kids…sorta like Bugs Bunny. Sanderson to my surprise (I’m not really sure why I was that surprised I love most of his stuff) now joins that very short list with Rick Riordan and J.K. Rowling as one of my favorite Middle Grade Authors.

This book is hi-LAR-i-OUS all the way though from beginning to end. There are so many funny instances and things happening throughout the story I laughed continuously. There is the continuous breaking of the 4th wall and side jaunts as our young Alcatraz talks to the reader. I loved almost all of them and the story was totally engaging for me all the way through.
I generally don’t recommend this kind of book at all. It is far too interesting. Perhaps you have had other kinds of books recommended to you. Perhaps, even, you have been given books by friends, parents, or teachers, then told that these books are the type you “have to read.” Those books are invariably described as “important”—which, in my experience, pretty much means that they’re boring. (Words like meaningful and thoughtful are other good clues.) If there is a boy in these kinds of books, he will not go on an adventure to fight against Librarians, paper monsters, and one-eyed Dark Oculators. In fact, the lad will not go on an adventure or fight against anything at all. Instead, his dog will die. Or, in some cases, his mother will die. If it’s a really meaningful book, both his dog and his mother will die. (Apparently, most writers have something against dogs and mothers.)

The Rundown:

Alcatraz is an orphaned boy who just turned 13 and realized that he has special powers and is needed to SAVE THE WORLD….sound familiar??? Well it is but he can’t fly or turn invisible, he doesn’t have super strength or the ability to transport himself across distances. No his special power is…..he can break things…tah dahhhhh. Your thinking that hey I too can break things and that doesn’t sound like it is all that special. Well you are wrong and you are probably a librarian or a hushlander who doesn’t understand the awesomeness of breaking things.
“What kinds of things can you break?” Grandpa Smedry asked.
“All kinds of things,” I said. “Doors, electronics, tables. Once I broke a chicken.”
“A chicken?”
I nodded. “It was on a field trip. I got … kind of frustrated, and I picked up a chicken. When I put it down, it immediately lost all of its feathers, and from then on refused to eat anything but cat food.”

Alcatraz isn’t the only one who has a superpower. No indeed everyone in the main line of his family can do something special. Like his Cousin Sing who can trip, a Grandfather who can be late and another cousin that…..
“And what is your Talent?” I dutifully asked.
“I can say things that make absolutely no sense whatsoever.”
“I thought everyone here had that Talent,” I noted. Nobody laughed. Free Kingdomers never get my jokes.

Don’t worry Alcatraz I got all your jokes and they were hilarious.

So as superpowers go they sound a little lame….but trust me, when you see how they work you will be AMAZED and ENTERTAINED. There are also knights, monsters made out of bad romance novels and glasses that you will be dying to get a pair of.


If you have read a Sanderson novel then you know that the world building and magic system is going to be great. It will be imaginative and inventive and there will be a twist. Even though this is a kid’s book….it is so not just a kid’s book. There is a little something for everyone and I can’t believe I waited so long to read these.


I bow down again to the writing Genius that is Sanderson and can’t wait to jump into the next book of the series. Fun for all ages.
Profile Image for megs_bookrack.
1,537 reviews9,803 followers
September 7, 2022
Alcatraz vs. the Evil Librarians is an uproariously funny, action-packed Middle Grade Fantasy story. I had an absolute blast reading this and actually finished it in a day.

This is the first installment of a currently 5-book series, with a 6th-book set to be released this September. While this story originally published in 2007, it is now being rereleased with updated covers.

Prior to receiving a copy of this, I actually had no idea that Brandon Sanderson even had a Middle Grade series. As a big fan of MG-stories, I was super pumped to make this discovery!

This one starts off with a hilarious Author's Note that definitely set the tone for the entire book. The author talks directly to the Reader and gets them ready for a rollicking, totally true tale.

Alcatraz Smedry, our main character, is an orphan, who on his 13th-birthday receives an inheritance from his parents; a bag of sand.

Just his luck that a bag of sand would be all his parents actually left him. You quickly learn Alcatraz doesn't have the best luck and has taken the art of breaking things to a whole new level.

The bag of sand, which would seem a harmless possession, actually ends up getting stolen by a cult of evil librarians who are seeking to take over the world by spreading misinformation.

Through a mysterious and unexpected visitor, Alacatraz is filled in on what the bag of sand actually is and schooled on the truth about the world. Like how a cult of evil librarians can even exist without anyone knowing about it.

Alcatraz and his visitor then set out on a quest to retrieve the sands and stop the evil librarians from achieving their goals, pairing up with some allies along the way.

This story was such a delight. The humor never stopped. Everything about it was written with such snark. I really enjoyed Sanderson's commitment to keeping that tone the entire way through.

It's wild and chaotic, over-the-top and enchanting. A nonstop thrill ride of good humor. I cannot wait to continue on with this series. I would love to join Alcatraz on as many adventures as I can.

Thank you so much to the publisher, Starscape, for providing me with a copy to read and review. I look forward to picking up the rest of the books!!
Profile Image for Kyle.
168 reviews58 followers
June 14, 2016

Think Harry Potter only with evil Librarians but a lot better.

Although it’s obviously written for young readers, it was still entertaining for adults. The story was fast paced and very humorous. The characters are fun and relatable as far possible in this type of story. It’s a quick read and well worth it.

Perfect for kids. I think it would be a great bedtime story that parents could read with their kids. If anyone still does that.

Profile Image for J.L.   Sutton.
666 reviews867 followers
December 30, 2017
Big fan of Brandon Sanderson. It's always interesting to think about the magic system Sanderson uses in whatever work you're reading. He always changes things up. Alcatraz Versus the Evil Librarians is no exception. In this fun read, Alcatraz's talent is his uncanny ability to break things. While this might not seem like part of a magical system at first, keep reading! I enjoyed the book and plan to get back to this series. But maybe after I read Oathbringer!
Profile Image for Mogsy (MMOGC).
2,030 reviews2,604 followers
April 8, 2016
5 of 5 stars at the BiblioSanctum http://bibliosanctum.com/2016/02/22/s...

I’ve been a terrible Brandon Sanderson fan! Seriously, how else to explain for the many years it took me to finally read his Alcatraz series? Mea culpa, it was complete negligence on my part, and I am sorry. But in my own defense, these books do fall a little outside my purview. After all, very rarely do I dip my toes into the Children’s/Middle Grade category, and they did seem far removed from the author’s other work. By his own admission, this series is very different from his normal style and they tend to be a source of contention among his readers. Don’t let that stop you if you think this might be something you’ll enjoy, though! Personally, I jumped into this first book amidst a bevy of reservations, but I ended up loving it to bits.

Alcatraz vs. The Evil Librarians is the first in a fantasy adventure series featuring its eponymous protagonist who is narrating this book as its writer—“Brandon Sanderson” is just a front, you see. The real person behind this novel is a young boy named Alcatraz Smedry. He is thirteen years old and lives with his foster parents. He is also great at breaking things. It all began with an old bag of sand, mailed to Alcatraz on his birthday—the only inheritance left to him by his birth parents. But before you can even say “Gee, thanks mom and dad”, the bag is stolen by a member of the Librarians, an evil cult that knows the sand is more than it seems. For centuries, they have been controlling information and spreading lies to keep everyone blind to their dastardly plans of world domination, but now that Alcatraz has learned the truth of his birthright, he and his new allies are going to strike back at the heart of the enemy—by planning a daring mission to infiltrate the central downtown library.

Don’t let the synopsis of the book fool you, because the utter absurdity of the plot actually belies its sheer ingenuity. The story is clever and beyond hilarious, thanks to the playfully sarcastic voice of our protagonist. Alcatraz himself is a bit of a trickster, often going on wildly bizarre tangents and freely admitting that he’s not a very nice person for yanking the reader around. Still, I could hardly hold that against him, considering the many times his narration drove me to hysterical fits of laughter. This is Sanderson at his funniest, combining his good-natured humor with a spirit of adventure. More than once I found myself wishing there had been books like this when I was a child, because I would have eaten this one up.

That said, just because these are “kids’ books” doesn’t mean adults can’t enjoy them too. My favorite stories are always those that can be appreciated an audience of all ages, and Alcatraz vs. The Evil Librarians definitely fits that description, being a book I would readily recommend to anyone, whether they are 13 or 30. While it does feature some over-the-top storytelling, never once did I feel things were dumbed down or glossed over unnecessarily. In fact, the plot was decidedly twisty and unpredictable, with some very well thought out and complex ideas. From the very first page you get a sense of the zaniness behind this novel and the anticipatory feeling that anything can happen.

For a personal project that began life as a way for the author to have a good time and practice another form of storytelling, this book has certainly found itself a loyal fanbase, which I now consider myself a part of. Alcatraz may be very different from Sanderon’s adult books, but it nevertheless shows his incredible versatility as a writer, and you can tell he had a blast writing this. Clearly, I had a blast reading it too, and the gorgeous artwork by Hayley Lazo in the illustrated edition only added to the experience. I can’t wait to read the rest of the series.
Profile Image for Eon ♒Windrunner♒  .
421 reviews466 followers
April 29, 2022

4.5 stars

I’ve said it once before and I’ll say it again. That is all you need to know.

PS: I once read that this was written for middle grade and then forgot about it because middle grade. Recently I saw it again and realised that I just had to give it a chance because how can you not read everything your favorite author has ever written?

200 odd pages later followed by the sound of a mic drop.

*takes a humble bow

Profile Image for Bookwraiths.
698 reviews1,044 followers
April 7, 2016
Originally reviewed at Bookwraiths

The first adventure in the young adult fantasy series Alcatraz The Evil Librarians was one which I and my youngest son read as a bedtime story. As a fan of Rick Riordan’s Percy Jackson series and Mac Barnett’s Brixton Brothers mysteries, I knew the novel was a can’t miss with the little Bookwraith, and I wasn’t wrong. This fast-paced, funny tale by Brandon Sanderson bringing more than a few smiles to my face and eliciting many a hysterical giggle from my son, which meant it was great fun but didn’t really put him to sleep any faster.

In this story, foster child Alcatraz Smedry is our star. Like most thirteen year olds, he has more than a little teen angst going on, but Alcatraz has more than a little right to feel that way, because he has had a pretty rough life: losing his parents, moving from foster home to foster home, and being cursed with a knack to break almost anything. And when he gets a bag of sand in the mail for his birthday, his angst only grows, as it seems this is his only inheritance from his mom and dad.

Soon, though, Alcatraz learns that there is a lot more to this stupid bag of sand than he thought. A cult of evil Librarians (who plan on taking over the world by distorting the truth) stealing it from him, trying to shot him before a strange, old man in a modified Model T-Ford slams his car into the side of Alcatraz’s house.

Grandpa Smedry not only saves Alcatraz but opens his eyes to a whole new world. A place where the Free Kingdoms are waging a hidden war against the Evil Librarians, and Alcatraz’s inheritance of a bag of sand is the most powerful gift anyone could have ever been given. (It took Alcatraz’s dad his whole life to gather the Sands of Rashid one grain at a time!) The Librarians wanting the sands, because with them they will be able to create the most powerful Oculatory Distortions ever, giving them the power to finally overthrow the Free Kingdoms!

Well, at least, Grandpa Smedry says all this is true. Alcatraz isn’t really sure if he believes him or not, especially the part about him being his grandpa. So what is he to do: run off into unknown danger with a strange man who might be delusional or head off to another foster home?

Finally, our young orphan decides, telling Grandpa Smedry, “I’m only going with you because someone just tried to kill me. You see, I’m a somewhat reckless boy and not always prone to carefully considering the consequences of my actions.

But how will the odd pair retrieve the sands from the armed and dangerous Librarians?

Grandpa Smedry has the answer: They will use Alcatraz’s Smedry talent. The talent (not a curse at all) to break things. The most powerful Smedry talent ever!

Lighthearted, funny, and filled with wild, crazy ideas sure to delight everyone who has the heart of a child, Alcatraz versus the Evil Librarians shows a very different side of Brandon Sanderson, but it still displays all his amazing storytelling talents: amazing plot, interesting characters, and mesmerizing twists and turns, which means it is a story not to be missed.

I received this book from the Starscape Books in exchange for a fair and honest review. I’d like to thank the publishers for allowing me to receive this review copy and inform everyone that the review you have read is my opinion alone.
Profile Image for Marnie  (Enchanted Bibliophile).
821 reviews122 followers
January 4, 2018
Only Alcatraz Sanderson can take something as mundane as sand and an orphan klutz and turn it into this amazing piece of work!


First Sentence: So, there I was, tied to an altar made from outdated encyclopedias, about to get sacrificed to the dark powers by a cult of evil Librarians.

I really enjoyed this, the humor is spot on, the sarcasm and quips make you laugh out loud.
The plot is lively, entertaining and full of twists and turns that you might - or might not have predicted. And of course one of the most unique and entrancing magical systems you'll ever read about.

The distinctive style in which this book is written is the true joy. Told as an AUTOBIOGRAPHY, Alcatraz Sanderson takes us on his journey of how he discovered his true inheritance.
Forget everything you ever thought you knew, and go read this book.
An unfortunate hero, will tell you exactly why he isn't a hero. And you will never look at Librarians the same way.

February 24, 2019
"Los autores escribimos libros por una única razón: porque nos gusta torturar a la gente".

Alcatraz Contra los Bibliotecarios Malvados es un libro middle grade súper gracioso. Aquí tenemos la historia de un chico que ha pasado un montón de tiempo saltando de un hogar de acogida a otro porque siempre termina rompiéndolo todo. Pero un día recibe un paquete misterioso lleno de arena con una carta de sus padres diciendo que esa es su herencia... sí, arena. Las cosas se empiezan a complicar cuando aparece en la puerta de Alcatraz su abuelo (que no sabía que existía) diciéndole que esa arena es lo más importante del mundo y que debe protegerla de los Bibliotecarios malvados, pero la advertencia llega muy tarde porque alguien ha robado esa arena.

Así es como empiezan las aventuras de Alcatraz, su abuelo y un grupo de personas de lo más dispar. Este libro está lleno de capítulos absurdos, incursiones a bibliotecas, peleas que no usan espadas sino gafas y, lo mejor de todo, diálogos directos del autor con los lectores. En serio, no se imaginan la risa que me daba cada que llegaban, en medio de la nada, estas diatribas de Sanderson en los momentos más inesperados.

Ahora, a pesar de que este sea un libro middle grade y que se sienta más como una comedia que como una fantasía con todas las de la ley, Sanderson no deja de lado lo que más le gusta hacer: inventarse un sistema de magia único. En este mundo de Alcatraz Contra los Bibliotecarios Malvados hay dos tipos de poderes: los que confieren diferentes tipos de gafas y lentes y los Talentos. Los oculantistas, que son quienes pueden usar el poder de los lentes, pueden lanzar llamas, ver huellas, leer idiomas ocultos y muchas cosas más... pero siempre dependen de tener las gafas correctas. Y, por otra parte, los Talentos son la cosa más absurda y graciosa que he leído nunca. Por ejemplo, el Talento del abuelo Smedry es llegar siempre tarde a todo y el de Alcatraz es romper cosas. Que suena súper tonto, sí, pero esto en manos de Sanderson se convierte en un poder súper cool.

Total, creo que esta serie de libros va a ser perfecta para cuando me quiera relajar un poco y, aún así, disfrutar de todos los diálogos y las ocurrencias de Sanderson <3.
Profile Image for Helen 2.0.
285 reviews780 followers
August 9, 2016
5 stars for pure entertainment value. I laughed my ass off reading this book.

Alcatraz Versus the Evil Librarians is about Alcatraz Smedry, an orphan whose neglectful grandfather lets him wither away in foster homes for the first 13 years of his life (Dumbledore much?). The Smedry family is infamous for the talents that grace each individual member; Alcatraz has an extraordinary talent for breaking things. Because of this talent foster families are quick to give him up, resulting in Alcatraz being passed around like a bong from home to home, until on his 13th birthday he receives his inheritance in the mail: a bag of sand.

BUT WAIT! If at this point you're thinking you want to skip this book, let me tell you that it includes all of the following:
- a sarcastic sword-wielding teenage girl
- dinosaurs with posh British accents
- walking romance novels
- lots and lots of fourth wall breaking
- shotguns
- a spidey sense that involves tripping rather than tingling
- cantaloupes and coconuts
There. That ought to convince you to read the series.

So Alcatraz's sand gets stolen by his foster care agent who is secretly an evil librarian. Then Grandpa Smedry, whose special talent is being late, arrives 13 years late to Alcatraz's life and fails to save his grandson from the trauma of foster care and being an orphan. Smh.

To make it up to him, Grandpa Smedry takes him on a perilous adventure to recover the bag of sand.

Alcatraz's narration is absolutely hilarious. Nearly every chapter he stops the story to talk directly to the reader, like so:
If you are anything like me - clever, fond of goat cheese, devilishly handsome - then you have undoubtedly read many books. And, while reading those books, you likely have thought that you are smarter than the characters in those books.
You're just imagining things.
Now, I've already spoken about foreshadowing (a meddling literary convention of which Heisenberg would uncertainly be proud). However, there are other reasons why you only
think that you're smarter than the characters in this book. ...
Extra points to anyone who just got that Physics joke.

As you can see, Alcatraz is a funny guy. If you ask me, this whole series is a way for Brandon Sanderson to let his humorous side show and speak through Alcatraz.
In fact, Brandon Sanderson proved all my suspicions about the nature of authors are true:
Authors write books for one, and only one, reason: because we like to torture people.
Now, actual torture is frowned upon in civilized society. Fortunately, the authorial community has discovered in storytelling an even more powerful - and more fulfilling - means of causing agony in others. We write stories. And by doing so, we engage in a perfectly legal method of doing all kinds of mean and terrible things to our readers.

I'm buddy reading the whole series in preparation of the release of Book 5, The Dark Talent, with the wonderful readers over at BB&B.
Profile Image for Mario.
Author 1 book190 followers
October 4, 2015
So, when people try to give you some book with a shiny round award on the cover, be kind and gracious, but tell them you don't read "fantasy," because you prefer stories that are real. Then come back here and continue your research on the cult of evil Librarians who secretly rule the world.

Will it ever come a day when I'll give Brandon Sanderson less than 5 stars? I don't think so.

Alcatraz Versus the Evil Librarians was so much fun to read. I think the humor was my favorite part of this book. The main character, Alcatraz, is one of the funniest character I've read about (right up there with Percy Jackson). I loved the way he narrated the story and his way of thinking. And even though he was my favorite character, I still really liked all of our other main characters (especially Bastille).

One more thing I want to mention is the magic system. Yet again, Sanderson managed to create an amazing magic system, and though it is a little weird, it fit the story perfectly.

I'll definitely continue on with the series, maybe not right away, but in near future. I'll be crazy not to. And if you're fan of Sanderson, or just like to read fun and exciting books, give this one a shot. I don’t think you'll be disappointed.
Profile Image for Deborah Obida.
673 reviews602 followers
July 18, 2022
Buddy read with my buds from Discord.

Alcatraz vs the Evil Librarians is unlike anything I’ve ever read, the writing is so whimsical and fun. This is a children’s book like HP and Percy Jackson but an adult cannot only read but also enjoy it. This book have good themes like family and friends, I’m waiting for more exploration on the above topics.

I’ve read more than 10 books by Brandon Sanderson and only this one has a different writing style. The magic system as usual is above average and very well depicted. The writing like I mentioned earlier is whimsical, fun and fast paced and it’s written in first person POV of Alcatraz.

Alcatraz the protagonist is a troubled boy who can’t help but break things, because of that he never lasts long with any foster parents. Everything changed when he received a bag of sand from his supposed parents whom he has never met. The sand got stolen and he was told that the world he lives in isn’t what it is and that Librarians are evil tyrants. Super weird right, trust me it’s fun.
Profile Image for Marta Álvarez.
Author 23 books5,744 followers
August 26, 2016
No leía un middle grade tan divertido desde Percy Jackson (aunque es más sencillito que este, le faltan subtramas. De momento).
Tiene un puñado de personajes divertídisimos y no por eso menos interesantes, y una historia conspiranoica que te hará disfrutar preguntándote "¿y si...?" respecto a tu propia realidad. Solo Brandon Sanderson, aka "hago que dibujar con tiza en el suelo se convierta en un combate trepidante" podía ingeniar un mundo en el que los bibliotecarios son los amos del mal que ocultan la verdadera realidad a los cinco continentes (al menos, los cinco de las Tierras Silenciadas...) y en el que llegar tarde a las cosas o decir sinsentidos llegan a ser talentos poderosísimos.
Pero lo que más me ha fascinado ha sido el narrador, ese narrador que rompe la cuarta pared y se burla del lector, que interrumpe la historia para divertirse a nuestra costa. Un experimento peliaguado que no habría podido salir mejor.
Profile Image for Maureen.
507 reviews4,200 followers
September 8, 2016
Probably a bit more like 3.5 or 3.75 stars because I'm intrigued enough to read the next one.
This was definitely a fun read and journey, and the narration was hilarious (that Harry Potter shade at the end tho
Profile Image for Kon R..
236 reviews102 followers
June 6, 2022
Wow! I was not expecting to love this as much as I did. Sanderson can honestly do no wrong. He has crafted something akin to Rick Riordan's Camp Half-Blood. A magical world hidden in plain sight filled with it's own wonders, rules, heroes, and villains. A world in war with itself to control the boring one we know so well. With Alcatraz narrating, he has even managed to play some pranks on us just for fun. I think the word fun best describes the experience. I cannot wait to continue this series.
Profile Image for Calista.
3,881 reviews31.2k followers
December 4, 2020
Brandon is writing his action packed middle grade fantasy series here and this is the introduction into the world of the evil librarians. Brandon turns the literary world upside down and he makes libraries and books sort of evil. They are part of a massive cover up to keep our world stupid. It's rather funny, but I love libraries so much that it also sort of hurts. He turns all of it upside down. There are land masses in the Atlantic, Pacific and Indian Oceans that aren't on our maps and this is where the free people live, the oculators.

We meet Alcatraz, a young boy just turning 13 who is in the foster care system. He finds out he has family and he has a gift and he finds out he has to outsmart the librarians.

The book is great in that Alcatraz is telling the story, he is the narrator because he is writing this book to be hidden in the library so we can all know the truth of what's happening. That's cute. Brandon really does some great work with explaining techniques writers use with people. He makes fun of writers and all the ways books torture people. It was really well done. I did get tired of that device after some time, but it's helpful to learn to write, I think. It puts it all in the story in a fun way.

I really wanted to love this, but I just thought it was OK. It was a quick and easy read. I bought the 1st & 2nd books together, so I have another one. I'll give it a read someday, but I'm not sure if I will finish the series. I'm not sold on it yet.

There is a lot of running around a library and silly things happening, but it seems to me to ramble a bit. It doesn't take itself seriously. I am going to lend this to my niece and nephew to read and I'm interested in seeing what they think. I think its about a 3 star book. Still, the concept is unique and very creative and I enjoy that part. This is the first thing I've read by Brandon that didn't just knock my socks off.
Profile Image for Celeste.
906 reviews2,342 followers
April 26, 2019
You can find this review and more at Novel Notions.

Is anyone else hesitant to read a favorite author’s work outside of their usual genre? I’ve loved Brandon Sanderson for years, but I’ve been extremely reluctant to try his young adult or middle grade offerings. I know that he writes addictive, immersive adult fantasy and was afraid to find out if that carried over into other genres intended for radically different audiences. I shouldn’t have doubted him. Alcatraz Versus the Evil Librarians was my first foray into Sanderson’s middle grade books, and it definitely won’t be my last.
“If you don't believe what I'm telling you, then ask yourself this: would any decent, kind-hearted individual become a writer? Of course not.”

First of all, who names their protagonist Alcatraz Smedry? Sanderson, that’s who. The silliness of that name sets the tone for the entire book, in my opinion. His story opens on his 13th birthday when a gift from one or both of his birth parents arrives on the doorstep of his current foster home. It’s sand. Yep, sand. Not exactly the kind of gift you hope to receive from parents you’ve never met and aren’t even sure are still alive. So Alcatraz starts doing what he does best as he processes this unusual gift; he break things. It’s this talent for breaking things that has kept the multitude of foster families who have taken him in over the years from keeping Alcatraz for very long. And who can blame them? Alcatraz sure doesn’t.
“Authors also create lovable, friendly characters, then proceed to do terrible things to them, like throw them in unsightly librarian-controlled dungeons. This makes readers feel hurt and worried for the characters. The simple truth is that authors like making people squirm. If this weren't the case, all novels would be filled completely with cute bunnies having birthday parties.”

The story spirals from there. Alcatraz is visited by Grandpa Smedry, who he has never even met. The bag of sand, which Alcatraz had thought such a pointless gift, is actually super important and has been stolen by Alcatraz’s social worker while he wasn’t paying attention. Come to find out, said social worker is actually part of a cabal of evil librarians who have taken over the majority of the world. And Alcatraz is actually a member of a famous family of Free Kingdomers, those still battling against the librarians in hopes of saving the world. Who would’ve guessed?
“By now it is probably very late at night, and you have stayed up to read this book when you should have gone to sleep. If this is the case, then I commend you for falling into my trap. It is a writer’s greatest pleasure to hear that someone was kept up until the unholy hours of the morning reading one of his books.”

As he begins his search for this weirdly important bag of sand with Grandpa Smedry, Alcatraz learns that basically everything he knows is a lie. The world is not what he thinks it is. There’s a family out there that loves him, and sees him as smart and talented instead of a mess. And librarians are evil. Never forget that librarians are out to get you. Which I found surprising information, seeing as I once worked as a children’s librarian. Thank goodness I managed to escape before I got in too deep.
“You see, that is the sad, sorry, terrible thing about sarcasm.

It's really funny.”

My favorite thing about this book is Alcatraz’s voice. He is one of the snarkiest, most sarcastic narrators I’ve ever come across and I absolutely love it. Very rarely is a narrator’s voice as strong and self-aware as the voice Sanderson delivered through Alcatraz, and I was ecstatic to find that in this book. Also, this book is just so funny on multiple levels. The plot and the characters are silly in the best way, which I think will really appeal to readers, especially those in the target audience. But Sanderson also uses Alcatraz to voice some hilarious views on books and reading and authorship, which to me was the best part of the story and is the one of the two reasons I rounded my 4.5 star rating up instead of down.
“Authors write books for one, and only one, reason: because we like to torture people.”

The other reason I rounded up my rating is how the magic system mirrors the foundation of Sanderson’s faith. In this novel, Alcatraz finds out that he is an oculator, one who can use different lenses to see or interact differently with the world. If you think that the idea of glasses helping to hone power feels oddly familiar, you’re not wrong. According to tradition, Joseph Smith, the founder of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, was led by the angel Moroni to a set of golden plates that contained the Book of Mormon. Human eyes were unable to translate the markings, but two stones known as the Urim and Thummim were preserved in the same stone box as the plate. Smith used these stones as lens through which to translate the plates. While this legend has since been questioned by scholars both within and outside of the LDS church, I feel that it’s not a stretch to imagine that Sanderson used this story as a bit of inspiration for the Smedry family’s oculatory powers.
“Alcatraz actually knows a person named Brandon Sanderson. That man, however, is a fantasy writer and is therefore prone to useless bouts of delusion in literary form.”

This book was an absolute joy to read. If I was still a teacher, I would undoubtedly be reading this book to my classes, and pushing it into the hands of other students. I will definitely be reading the next book, and will probably read the rest of the series. Sorry for doubting you, Sanderson. I should’ve known that you can write amazing fantasy for any age, and that readers of any age could enjoy the books you aim at younger readers. I promise not to doubt you again.

As I am not a member of the LDS Church, please be aware that I can neither speak for the church nor explain their beliefs. If you’re interested in learning more about Joseph Smith, you can visit the Joseph Smith Foundation here. To learn more about the LDS Church, you can visit their official website here.
Profile Image for Bonnie Shores.
Author 1 book369 followers
June 15, 2017
This book reads like the author is super successful and doesn't ever need to write again, but he lost a bet or something and is forced to churn out a book. It comes across to me as smug. To illustrate, here are some of the author's own words (strewn throughout the story)...

"Are you annoyed with me yet? Good. I've worked very hard. Honestly, authors can be so self-indulgent."

"Authors write books for one, and only one, reason. Because we like to torture people."

"Now, if you're ever writing a story such as this, you should know something. Never interrupt the flow of a good action scene by interjecting needless explanations."


While Sanderson obviously has talent, imho it is lost in "Alcatraz Versus the Evil Librarians" due to his most annoying technique of relentlessly telling the reader what to think and how to feel. Maybe this strategy works with 8-year-olds, but I (not an 8-year-old) was so aggravated that I couldn't wait to be done with this book. The ONLY reason I didn't DNF it was because it fulfilled a challenge.

You may be confused by my rating since 3 stars means "liked it". I truly hated reading this book so you'd think I'd only give it 1 star.




...the writing is undeniably good and the story is extremely clever. If I could have deleted all the "asides", I would have given it 5 stars. So, I went down the middle. I hope that's considered fair.
Profile Image for Franco  Santos.
484 reviews1,343 followers
December 5, 2015
"It looks... dangerous," I said.
"Well, of course," Bastille said. "It's a library."
Gran libro de Sanderson. Tiene un ritmo rápido, mucho humor y, por supuesto, una trama muy original. En este el autor aborda el verdadero lugar del poder, en dónde reside en realidad, y lo importante que es la información para nuestro comportamiento: cómo todo se reduce a cuán informada está una sociedad o un individuo. Es decir, quien controla la información, maneja al pueblo. Muy interesante planteo de Sanderson. Es una novela mucho más inteligente de lo que parece.
Algo que no voy a soslayar es lo bien que empleó Sanderson la metaficción. Es una de las características que más me gustaron del relato. Amo la narrativa autorreferencial.
Great success often depends upon being able to distinguish between the impossible and the improbable.
En fin, no es una obra muy popular de este autor, pero me gustó mucho y la recomiendo sin un ápice de duda.
Profile Image for Hannah Greendale.
703 reviews3,277 followers
September 18, 2016
When Alcatraz received his inheritance on this thirteenth birthday, he never expected it to be a bag of sand. But then again, his parents named him Alcatraz, so it's no wonder they left him something bizarre. Turns out, it's no ordinary bag of sand, and Alcatraz is no ordinary orphan boy. He's about to embark on an adventure where a cult of evil Librarians rule the world, and the only way he can stop them is to venture into the depths of a labyrinthine library armed with a pair of eyeglasses and a knack for breaking most everything he touches.

The author brings a wonderful sense of humor to this book:

Remember, despite the fact that this book is being sold as a "fantasy" novel, you must take all of the things it says extremely seriously, as they are quite important, are in no way silly, and always make sense.

The story is told from the perspective of Alcatraz as a grownup. His tone and syntax are much more adult than a thirteen-year-old boy's, so the book feels a bit stuffy at times. Also, nearly every chapter begins with the narrator pausing the story to address the reader. These sections slow the action and are very repetitive.

At this point, perhaps you Hushlanders are beginning to doubt the truth of this narrative. You have seen several odd and inexplicable things happen. (Though, just as a warning, the story so far has actually been quite tame. Just wait until we get to the part with the talking dinosaurs.) Some readers might even think that I'm just making this story up. You might think that everything in this book is dreamy silliness.

Another point of contention: While the author had the good intention of writing a fun story for kids, he puts a fair amount of emphasis on guns, something that starts to feel uncomfortable after a while. One of the characters carries a bag full of guns -- shotguns, uzis, pistols. The merits of swords vs. guns are debated. At one point, it's even suggested that if a thirteen-year-old boy were to find an uzi lying on the ground, the natural thing to do would be to pick it up:

As she did, I noticed the discarded uzi, lying ignored on the floor. Trying to look nonchalant, I wandered over to it, absently reaching down and picking it up.
This is, I would like to note, precisely the same thing
any thirteen-year-old boy would do in that situation. A boy who wouldn't do such a thing probably hasn't been reading enough books about killer Librarians.

Obviously the guns aren't mentioned with the intent of delivering a bad message, but in a book with talking dinosaurs, laser eyeglasses, and monsters made of crumpled paper, it seems like it would have been all-too-easy to swap the guns for something else more imaginative. Why not Super Soakers filled with a stunning potion or with liquid ice that freezes ones opponent?

Despite some elements that were personally unappealing, it's safe to assume that middle graders will enjoy Alcatraz Verses the Evil Librarians. It's a fanciful adventure of secret worlds, lost languages, and super cool eye-wear.

Random Thought:
Profile Image for Emma.
2,436 reviews828 followers
August 9, 2016
If I was a middle grader, this would definitely be a 5 star read! What a funny, surreal and original story! It really is very charming. Evil baddies ( Librarians) and a hilarious cast of heros who have talents that you have never seen before, battle it out in (and I hope this isn't a spoiler!) a library..

Alcatraz the hero of our story talks directly to the reader in a way which is very funny and engaging. As a teacher myself, I also approve entirely of the way in which Sanderson almost tutors the reader in the craft of writing an engaging story, teaches a child that writing is about crafting and shaping the perfect story to engage the reader.

I think Brandon Sanderson must be a very funny guy in real life.

It is fantastic to see such an unlikely and vulnerable character as the main protagonist. We see a child of low self esteem with destructive tendencies find the hero inside himself and his place in the world- and that is a very positive message for children and adults alike.

This book will make you laugh and it will make you think. Not sure if I personally would continue with the series but I definitely would if I was a few decades younger!
Profile Image for Marc *Dark Reader of the Woods*.
780 reviews132 followers
October 6, 2022
This book was my first Brandon Sanderson experience. Although I have since read more of his work (Elantris, Mistborn era one, The Rithmatist, and the Reckoners trilogy; I'm saving Stormlight Archive for the fifth book's release), this remains my favorite of them all,and it's perfect for any age. I find it odd that he didn't finish this series sooner; with the first book released in 2007, all of its original readers have long aged out of the marketing demographic (which shouldn't stop anyone from reading it anyway.)

Re-"read" recently via audiobook, chosen for brevity and familiarity on a burdensome road trip, as well as interest in the forthcoming final book in the series, Bastille vs. the Evil Librarians. I am not an audiobook afficionado, and I want to point out that this book's text often refers to itself as a physical book, which makes the audio version an aberrant and unintended experience. Further, the audiobook is missing the last page of the book so do yourself a favour and actually read the thing to have the correct experience.

I bought this for my avid-reader daughter last Christmas, but it has not appealed to her thus far. Maybe I'll start reading it aloud to her little brother so she can overhear what she is missing.


Original review (2018):

This was fun to read. Appropriate for perhaps ages 10-13? I don't really know how to judge this accurately, but given that the main character is 13, that seems like a good upper target range (younger readers need someone to look up to). In my ongoing quest to check out some juvenile fantasy titles for when my kids are older (and okay, a little for myself), I thought I might try a 'library' theme. I also borrowed The Forbidden Library by Django Wexler; I will include a comparison when I read and review that title.

The only other Brandon Sanderson work that I have read are the last volumes of Robert Jordan's Wheel of Time series. I recently picked up Mistborn for $0.50 to check it out but haven't gotten to it yet. He is clearly a prolific fantasy writer based on his high-volume output, and based on this Alcatraz book, I can see why he is popular. His writing is very accessible. And although, as already stated, I have not read his other works, my impression is that they are targeted to teen/young adult readers.

Here the tone is very light. I very much enjoyed the frequent humorous interjections, which are not as 'throw-away' as they might seem. He frequently (constantly?) breaks the narrative to offer multi-layered author observations, comments on the writing process, and self-deprecation, while keeping well within the context of the narrative. The action peak/climax of this book is written very effectively. The light tone is actually quite ironic as it serves to pull the reader in more deeply.

This series (and it was written at the outset as a series; there is already a reference to a sequel in the text of this book. Was there ever a day when a fantasy book would stand alone, awaiting critical reception or sales before turning into a franchise?) follows the adventures of Alcatraz Smedly, age 13, as he discovers the secret world around him and his own destiny. Of course he is an orphan (aren't they all in these books? I suppose writing about believable parent/child relationships would indeed be a drag).

Based on nothing, I picture the author as Brandon Routh (actor, Superman in Superman Returns and Ray Palmer/The Atom in TV series Arrow and DC's Legends of Tomorrow, if you are not familiar with him).
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