Alcatraz vs. the Evil Librarians

 
4.8 (2)
 
0.0 (0)
480 0
Alcatraz vs. the Evil Librarians
Publisher
Age Range
8+
Release Date
May 03, 2022
ISBN
978-0765378941
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On his thirteenth birthday, foster child Alcatraz Smedry gets a bag of sand in the mail-his only inheritance from his father and mother. He soon learns that this is no ordinary bag of sand. It is quickly stolen by the cult of evil Librarians who are taking over the world by spreading misinformation and suppressing truth. Alcatraz must stop them, using the only weapon he has: an incredible talent for breaking things.

Editor reviews

2 reviews
Bringing truth to the Hushlands
Overall rating
 
4.8
Plot
 
4.0
Characters
 
5.0
Writing Style
 
5.0
Illustrations/Photos (if applicable)
 
5.0
What I Loved: This was a very quirky plotline that was irresistible to my middle-grade reader. The premise is that Evil Librarians control the Hushlands (I love the name!) which is the world we all know. Information is controlled by the libraries and we believe what has been presented to us. This could be a really great discussion topic by itself. However, Alcatraz Smedry becomes aware of the Free Kingdoms and wanted to write his autobiography. The only way to get it past the Evil Librarians and into our hands is to present it as a story under the pseudonym, Brandon Sanderson. In this way, the author continues to break apart from events in the story and talk directly to the audience. This allows what would be a very unbelievable story and super silly to seem more plausible. My son kept grinning and commenting back to the book and me when the author engaged the audience.
The outlandish powers that Alcatraz Smedry and his newly discovered family members possess don’t seem all that amazing. Like Alcatraz’s ability to break things. Sing’s ability to trip and fall. His grandfather’s ability to arrive late. Yet, as the story progresses each talent really does help them. My son and I had fun discussing what talents we really had. We decided stubbing a toe may come in handy after all!
Final Verdict: We half read the book and half listened to the audiobook. The audiobook was fantastic but this was the first time that I experienced a loss in the value added from the printed version because of the illustrations scattered throughout the book. I don’t know which version I would recommend the most. The voice actor was very engaging to listen to, but the illustrations were great as well. Either way you choose, this is definitely a quirky book sure to delight your middle-grade reader. Even with a Library degree, I enjoyed it a lot too. I know which side I am rooting for in the sequel!
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Information holds real power.
Overall rating
 
4.7
Plot
 
5.0
Characters
 
5.0
Writing Style
 
4.0
Illustrations/Photos (if applicable)
 
N/A
What worked:
I always appreciate a good hook, and this book immediately grabbed my interest. An “author’s” note describes the book as a true autobiography even though readers will find it on the shelves of the fantasy section in their libraries. The author’s name is an alias since Librarians rule the Hushlands, our world, and would ban the book if they knew his true identity. Chapter one opens with a foster child named Al, short for Alcatraz, strapped to an altar “made from outdated encyclopedias” awaiting sacrifice by a cult of evil Librarians. Most of the story takes place within the walls of a library, although it’s not like any library you’ve ever visited. It’s a base for the evil Librarians, is led by a Dark Oculator, and is the setting for an action-packed adventure.
The story is very funny, and readers can expect many strange descriptions and visual images. Al receives a bag of sand on his thirteenth birthday that may be the key to survival for the Free Kingdoms. Al and other Smedrys have special talents that are quite unusual. Al’s talent is breaking things, his grandfather is always late, one cousin says things that make no sense, and another can fall down. How can these abilities be useful in a war against the Librarians? Al’s ability is unpredictable, so it’s hard to foresee when breaking something will save him. Rest assured the talents do in fact help, and they’re just as humorous as you’d expect.
The story is written in a second-person point of view, so the narrator speaks directly to readers. Most chapters begin with the narrator explaining how authors normally write books and how this book is very different. He talks about foreshadowing and cliffhangers and explains the merits and problems with each. These explanations aren’t done to inform readers but to continue the humorous writing style. The narrator often pokes fun at librarians, authors, culture, and misinformation we’ve learned. It’s amusing to read about authors’ annoying literary techniques and how reading books like this one are worthless. The narrator even teases himself by sharing misconceptions about his own knowledge and clarifying why he’s not actually heroic.
What didn’t work as well:
The early part of the book is tricky when trying to figure out what’s going on since the narrator informs readers of their ignorance. This sets the table for humor, as Al learns why swords are better than guns, torches are better than electric lights, and our unawareness of several additional continents on earth. The main conflicts are, in fact, trying to retrieve the sand and learning about Al’s parents.
The Final Verdict:
Information holds real power. Readers must have a tolerance for bizarre humor, which I possess, but that open-mindedness will be rewarded in this creative, entertaining “autobiography”. The charming narrative will be sure to leave readers smiling, as Al battles the evil Librarians. I recommend you give this book a shot!
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