Alcatraz Versus the Evil Librarians byBrandon Sanderson - Book ReviewBy Paul StottsYoure being brainwashed.No, not by me. Im not that clever and devious, nor do I possess the evil gene necessary for sucha task (which disqualifies me from running for public office. Or being one of the pageantparents on Toddlers and Tiaras). My talents lie elsewhere. Like my ability to write completelymeaningless asides. Like this one. Its not much of a talent, Ill admit, but it beats being able toname all the episodes of Star Trek in thirty seconds.So back to my point. The one about your gray matter being laundered ina Maytag on infinite auto-cycle. See, everything youve been taught inyour life, is a lie. A big, Pinocchio nose-growing lie. Part of a conspiracy,really, to keep us ignorant. There was this dude, a really cool cat, lived along time ago, name of Plato. Plato wrote about people tied up in a cavewho could only see shadows projected on the cave wall in front of them.Its what they call an allegory; these cave people werent seeing the truenature of things. Just a shadowy representation. Same thing with themovie The Matrix. Seems the Wachowski brothers knew this Platodude, and thus, had no problem with ripping off his ideas.Anyway, back to this conspiracy that keeps you ignorant. Seems theres a powerful group outthere that doesnt want you to know certain things. No, its not the government. Take off thetin foil hat; we dont all need to move out to a gated compound in Idaho and start stockpilingweapons. This group is way more powerful than that; these guys make the politicians quake intheir seven hundred dollar loafers and tailored power suits. So what group am I talking about?Why, the Death-Eaters, of course.Just kidding; I couldnt resist pulling your Dumbledore. Really, this group is far worse than thoseVoldemort groupies. So who is it?The Librarians.Alright, you can stop laughing now; Ill wait.Really, giggle hysterically, as much as you like, but I promise you, no matter how hard youlaugh, your buttocks wont fall off. Besides Im not joking about there being a Librarianconspiracy. See, these are evil Librarians Im talking about. Now I know calling a librarian evil is
redundant; anyone ever exposed to that torture device called a card catalog already knows this.But their depravity goes even further than you think; their malicious lies know no bounds.Do you believe in physics? You shouldnt; its a Librarian fantasy. Cmon, gravity made sense toyou? Boy, are you gullible. (You know, the word gullible isnt even in the dictionary. Seriously,go check.) How about magic? Do you believe in it? You should (and not just in a young girlsheart); its totally real. A big Lovin Spoonful of real.Now we wouldnt know about this Librarian conspiracy here in the Hushlands if it wasnt for anenterprising thirteen year old named Alcatraz Smedry. Alcatraz decides to chronicle his battleswith the evil Librarians, while revealing the deeper truth behind the Librarian conspiracy, in theautobiographical Alcatraz Versus the Evil Librarians.Autobiographical? The novel claims Brandon Sanderson wrote it-see, right there, on the cover,in small print. Well, pish posh I say to that. Do you believe everything you read? BrandonSanderson is just Alcatrazs pseudonym, the one he uses to convince the Librarians that AlcatrazVersus the Evil Librarians is a fantasy novel, and not his memoirs. Tricky guy, that Alcatraz.So what makes Alcatraz so awesome that he can take on evil Librarians? His special Smedrytalent: he can break things. Like doors, plates, and chickens. Really, he broke a chicken. But hedoesnt take on evil Librarians alone. He has help: his grandfather, Leavenworth Smedry; ayoung Knight of Crystallia, Bastille, and cousins, Quentin and Sing Sing Smedry.Alcatraz wouldnt have even known about the evil Librarians if it hadnt been for the gift hereceived on his thirteenth birthday: a bag of sand. And not just any bag of sand, but a specialbag of sand. Dare I say a magic bag of sand? At least thats what Grandpa Smedry tells him.Unfortunately its quickly stolen by the Librarians (pesky card-cataloguers), leaving Alcatraz nochoice but to attempt a dangerous Library infiltration in order to retrieve the sands.Massive amounts of charm and humor infect every page of Alcatraz Versus the Evil Librarians.Alcatraz...umm...Sandersons wit is infectious and joyful, the more you read of the novel, thehappier you get. It makes you feel young again, like eating an ice cream cone on a hot day.Sanderson captures Alcatrazs voice wonderfully, creating a character whose rebelliousness,adventurous spirit and humor should greatly appeal to teen readers. All of the charactersdisplay a great rapport with each other, and the banter is funny, fresh, odd, and exciting.No matter the novel, Sanderson always seems to create cool magic schemes for his worlds. Theocular lens magic-and to a lesser extent, the Smedry talents-in Alcatraz Versus the EvilLibrarians continues his winning streak with another Blackjack. The magic is less complex thanin his adult novels, but the creativity behind the different kinds of lens, as well as the variousSmedry talents, Alcatraz encounters is outstanding. The Smedry talents really stand out; theyreodd, and at first blush, they seemingly suck. As an example, Grandpa Smedrys talent is that healways arrives late for things. That doesnt look like much of a talent, but Sanderson makes itwork in unexpected ways. In ways that actually makes it a rather cool power.
The novel moves faster than a greyhound with his butt on fire, chasing after a fire extinguisherstrapped on the back of a cheetah. Fast enough to keep young readers constantly engaged,while the multitude of chapter-ending cliffhangers will make putting this one down difficult.(Having your significant other or trusted family member disorient you with a few sharp whacksfrom a stick, before prying the book from your hand seems to be the only effective way ofstopping.)Alcatraz Versus the Evil Librarians is a great young adult novel that should have no problemappealing to an adult audience. You dont have to be a kid to enjoy it, because Sandersonscreativity, wit and humor will make even the grumpiest curmudgeon feel like hes twelve again.