Alcatraz Versus the Evil Librarians (Alcatraz #1)
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!...by infiltrating the local library, armed with nothing but eyeglasses and a talent for klutziness.
Now if that isnt odd enough, the next morning a strange little man wearing a black tuxedo and red tinted glasses comes waltzing into the house looking for the inheritance. His Talent? Being Late. He was supposed to get to Alcatraz on his birthday. But as you would have it, the inheritance, the precious Sands of Rashid, were stolen by Ms. Fletcher, who all these years was posing as his case worker but was aligned with the evil librarians of Hushland.
What does this have to do with anything? Well, in the Free Kingdoms (those not ruled by librarians) the Smedrys are considered royalty and heroes. And with these Talents and because they are Oculars (people who see the things they need to see), the Smedrys have been fighting the librarians who have been trying to take over.
I realize this doesnt explain much. So, heres a short synopsis. The Smedrys, all of whom are named after prisons, are trying to defend the Free Kingdoms against the librarians. Attica, Alcatraz, Sing Sing and (San) Quentin Smedry, and Bastille, a guard, infiltrate the library. You see, the myth is that the Sands of Rashid can be smelt into powerful lenses and the librarians must be thwarted in this endeavor. This motley group sees sedate British dinosaurs and mean looking librarian thugs (are there such things?). They use antiquated weapons such as Uzis and machine guns against the sophisticated swords used by the librarians. They use their Talents: Breaking Things, Being Late, Tripping and Speaking Gibberish. They battle using a variety of lenses, each one stronger than the next. They hide. They get captured. They escape. They fight.
Does this tell you anything significant about the book? Not really? Well, thats probably because this book is indescribable. Its fun. Its funny. Its action packed. Its serious. Its thought provoking. Its narrated by Alcatraz himself, a hero in the Free Kingdoms. It will make you cringe, make you shake your head in wonder, make you cover your eyes in fright. But it will also make you keep reading until the very end, which while wrapping up the story, promises a sequel. So, if you want a Talent, make it Reading and read this book, before the evil librarians hide it from you forever.
*Wonderful humor by the narrator himself!
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!