Alcatraz versus the Evil Librarians by Brandon Sanderson, Alcatraz series #1, a review
Published 2007 by Scholastic, 308 pages
Genre: Middle grade humorous fantasy, aimed at readers approx. 12 years old
This engaging and funny book promises to encourage reluctant readers with plenty of improbable silliness. Its only flaw is that it isn’t all that hard to put down, owing to the silliness part.
Alcatraz, a 13-year-old who has grown up in foster care, finds himself accidentally breaking things all the time. So he gets kicked out of foster home after foster home.
Then a strange birthday present shows up, a tiny bag of sand, which he ignores. But then, it’s missing! Who took it? Pretty soon someone claiming to be his grandfather comes and takes him away, explaining that it’s time he learned about his heritage and his incredibly useful talent–for breaking things. It’s the evil librarians who took the precious bag of sand, and the race is on to get it back. Can he use his “talent” to get it back?
Sanderson addresses the reader directly plenty of times in the book. I find his doing this a bit distracting. What’s the general effect on a reluctant reader? Not sure. And then, there’s the joke right at the end of the book. Clearly he had a lot of fun writing it.
I certainly enjoyed this book. I bet most kids would too.
Four stars: ****
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Fun! This book sounds so very different from Steelheart, also by Brandon Sanderson. I wonder, too, how the author addressing the reader affects different kinds of readers. Personally, I like it, but know plenty of people who don’t. Thank you for reviewing!
Books for teens and tweens have really changed since I was a kid, and even since I was a teacher. More high interest topics should encourage youth to read rather than spend so much time on social media. – Margy
I expect most kids would enjoy it, but as a retired librarian, I have to object to the idea of evil librarians! Really?
It’s so silly.
A belated welcome to the book review club! I like how you analyzed what worked well or not so well in this book and put it in the context of the intended audience.