Review: Alcatraz Versus the Evil Librarians

Review: Alcatraz Versus the Evil LibrariansAlcatraz Versus the Evil Librarians by Brandon Sanderson
Series: Alcatraz #1
Published by Scholastic on November 1, 2008
Genres: Adventure, Humor, Urban Fantasy
Pages: 308
Format: Paperback
Source: Purchased

A hero with an incredible talent...for breaking things. A life-or-death 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! infiltrating the local library, armed with nothing but eyeglasses and a talent for klutziness.

As a librarian, there was absolutely no way I could pass up this book. Evil librarians? I was so there. And boy did this book deliver the absurdities for which I was hoping. The story is told in a breaking the fourth wall kind of way, wherein the author (Sanderson claims to be Alcatraz who is pretending to be Sanderson so the librarians will not ban the book…or something like that) constantly puts the narrative on hold to talk to the reader. This tactic can seriously backfire and is not one I am generally a fan of. Sanderson pulled it off quite well here, largely because the character of Alcatraz has enough swagger, sarcasm and know-it-all-ness to make it seem appropriate and funny.

Similarly, Sanderson manages to sell the crazy elements of the plot by playing them up. He draws attention to all of the weird things and shrugs his shoulders literarily, making you do so too. (I’m not sure if that makes sense, but it does to me.) For example, I was skeptical of the Smedry Talents. Breaking things had some obvious utility, but tripping and arriving late sure did not seem at all helpful. But Sanderson made it work. So props to him.

Speaking of Sanderson, I got to see him speak at ALA 2010 and he seemed like a nice, nerdy gentleman. He talked in his spiel about how much he loves libraries and what an impact they had on him as a child. He even threw in a quote that I am fairly certain is a nod to himself as a teen. “The rebellious, trouble-making types looked through the fantasy section” (285). No wonder he believes that information is “the real power in this world,” and that, since the librarians control the information, they could control the power (97). Awesome! I like the way this man thinks.

Why should you read this book?

  • Sarcastic narrator = best kind of narrator
  • Opening 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” (1).
  • The most kickass character is a 13 year old girl
  • Off the wall, hilarious crazy moments
  • Book-loving dinosaurs that speak with British accents
  • Seriously, did you miss out on the evil librarians? Evil librarians!

One response to “Review: Alcatraz Versus the Evil Librarians”

  1. Kelly says:

    That book sounds amazing! I’m pretty sure I need to read it. Any book with evil librarians sounds like a worthwhile book to read!

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