Monday, March 12, 2018

Alcatraz Versus the Evil Librarians

Alcatraz Versus the Evil Librarians
by Brandon Sanderson
Recommended Ages: 10+

Readers who love goofy, fourth-wall-breaking narration and meta-fiction gags about how mean authors are to readers will enjoy suffering through Alcatraz Smedry's meanness as he tells about his first adventure as an Oculator, in an inside-out reality in which the world we know is a deception foisted on us by a conspiracy of evil librarians. If you think guns are more advanced than swords, or that elevators are more convenient than stairs, you might have fallen victim to their disinformation campaign. Leading the fight to keep Inner Libraria from spreading to the Free Kingdoms (on continents that you won't find on any map) are members of the Smedry clan, whom Alcatraz has just met after spending most of his life bouncing from one foster home to another.

One of the things that has kept him bouncing is his secret power - all Smedrys of the true line have one. Grandpa Leavenworth (you might notice a pattern with their names) has the power of always arriving late. Cousin Sing Sing (just Sing to his friends), a collector of vintage weaponry, has the power of tripping and falling. Cousin Quentin (I'm guessing he dropped a "San" somewhere) has the power of saying things that make no sense. Bastille, a 13-year-old warrior, is like, a warrior. And then there's Alcatraz, whose secret power - breaking stuff - has only caused trouble so far. Yet on the very day he learns about the true nature of reality, he is expected to help this crack team infiltrate the downtown library and steal back his inheritance - a precious (cough) bag of sand.

It's a funny, weird, magical, world-within-a-world-building or maybe world-demolishing-and-totally-rebuilding type of fantasy, with some good action and a number of gimmicks that will make your jaw drop. And did I mention the meta? Yeah, you're going to notice that. Brandon Sanderson, I mean Alcatraz Smedry, doesn't just like to play with the reader, like an ordinary author. He likes to banter about what he's doing, sort of like how comic-book arch-villains like to make boastful speeches revealing what they plan to do just in time for their hero nemesis to stop them. But there seems to be no stopping Alcatraz (or is it Brandon) from messing with us. For more of his silly, cliché-tweaking adventures, see the sequels Alcatraz Versus the Scrivener's Bones, Alcatraz Versus the Knights of Crystallia, Alcatraz Versus the Shattered Lens, and The Dark Talent.

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