~by Brandon Sanderson
I have heard many, many good things about Brandon Sanderson's books, though I haven't gotten around to reading any of them until now. But with a title like Alcatraz versus the Evil Librarians how could I resit? Alcatraz is a different fare from Sanderson's usual work. Instead of epic fantasy written for adults he has written a short and extremely humorous book suitable for most ages.
Alcatraz Smedry has been shuffled from one foster home to the next in fairly rapid succession. It's not that he's exactly a bad kid (of course, he'd be the first to tell you that he's not a particularly good person, either), it's just that he has a habit of breaking things. On his thirteenth birthday, shortly after burning down the kitchen of his current foster parents, he receives a package in the mail. Supposedly it is his entire inheritance from his parents--a bag of sand. When the bag is stolen from him, he finds himself thrust into a reconnaissance mission along with a man who claims to be his grandfather. The target? The downtown public library, local headquarter of the evil and power hungry librarians. With their own devious plans for the sand, they are determined to continue to extend their world dominance. Alcatraz is about to learn that everything he thought he knew is wrong.
The story is told as an autobiography, although Alcatraz has a tendency to ramble on about other things. Specific subjects included authors, writing, readers, and the Great Kitten Conspiracy. He doesn't hesitate to make fun of himself, his readers, or even the book while addressing the reader directly. A few different and rather unique magic systems are introduced, my favorite being the Smedry Family Talents. What at first seem like inconveniences (breaking things, always arriving late, etc.) can be remarkably useful and powerful skills. It was great fun to see how these "talents" developed into solutions.
I absolutely loved this book. It's incredibly snarky and sarcastic, so if that's not a type of humor you appreciate you might give it a pass. I on the other hand thought it was hilarious. I had a huge grin plastered on my face while I read it, often only half successful in stifling my laughter and delight. (I got a lot of strange looks from other people while reading Alcatraz.) I didn't know it when I picked it up, but Alcatraz versus the Evil Librarians is actually the first in a series with five books planned. Even if you don't go on to read the rest of the series, I highly, highly recommend this first installment.
(I am an evil librarian. No, really, I am. Sanderson's got us right on. Remember that next time you go to a library. Be nice to us or else you'll probably regret it--we control your universe after all.)