Alcatraz versus the evil Librarians is the first book in a middle grade series by Brandon Sanderson and when I got the chance to read it, I was fairly excited. I’ve said in a separate review that I’m a fan of his writing and the idea of a middle grade by him was interesting.
This is a fast paced fun read with a hero that might not be everyone’s favorite at the outset. See, Alcatraz is a bit of a rough kid. He breaks things. And he’s done it his entire life. In foster care he’s been through a lot of families. Not all of them have been able to handle the breaking which, we have to remember, isn’t done on purpose.
Or at least not all of it. Now, at 13, Alcatraz doesn’t like to get close. He’s abrasive. And so when he breaks things, not all of it is accidental. Don’t picture him throwing things to the ground, that isn’t how it works. He just has to touch things and they break.
He broke a chicken. It’s brought up early on and I kept reading because I needed to know how it was broken. I didn’t expect anything graphic, and it wasn’t. It was fairly funny though so no spoilers.
Alcatraz is a Smedry, a family with a long history of these talents. In this we meet his Grandfather, Leavenworth and his cousin, Sing. They are from the Free Kingdoms where a lot of people are named after prisons. Bastille is a knight and she’s a thirteen year old with an attitude due to dealing with Leavenworth and her own personal issues.
While she isn’t the worst character I’ve ever read, she was a little annoying. To be honest, so was Alcatraz. But he’d been through so many foster homes it was easy to see how he could end up that way.
Now, back to the Free Kingdoms. The world is quite literally bigger than Alcatraz knows and the reason for this lack of knowledge is the fact that he lives in the Hushlands. Or, the world you and I know. It’s ruled by Librarians and they control the information being given.
There’s a war between the two “worlds” that Alcatraz gets pulled into because he’s not a Hushlander. Not really.
It’s a fun book with an interesting writing style. The narrator, Alcatraz after at least some time has passed since the events in the story, interjects throughout the novel with various bits of information.
While it was entertaining, it did sort of mess with the pace of the story. A chapter would end on something dramatic and unresolved and the next started with the narrator acknowledging that fact before saying a few things and then getting on with the story.
All in all, it’s a fun book. I’d recommend it to younger readers. It’s a good dip into fantasy when the genre is so big and daunting. There’s different ethnicities, though not many. Hopefully the rest of the series has better representation. There wasn’t really anything offensive, although if I missed it, I will revise this.
I’m giving this a four (4) out a five (5).
I received this eArc from NetGalley in exchange for an honest review. Thanks to them and the publisher.