Double Review: Two Takes on Librarians, part II

 Alcatraz Versus the Evil Librarians
By Brandon Sanderson

Stars: 4 out of 5

There are so many great quotes in this book.  One of my favorites, to which I alluded in the previous review, is near the beginning:

“Perhaps, even, you have been given books by friends, parents, or teachers, then told that these books are the type you “have to read.”  Those books are invariably described as “important” – which, in my experience, pretty much means that they’re boring.  (Words like meaningful and thoughtful are other good clues.)  If there is a boy in these kinds of books, he will not go on an adventure to fight against Librarians, paper monsters, and one-eyed Dark Oculators.  In fact, the lad will not go on an adventure or fight against anything at all.  Instead, his dog will die.  Or, in some cases, his mother will die.  If it’s a really meaningful book, both his dog and his mother will die.  (Apparently, most writers have something against dogs and mothers.) (p. 49-50)”

 This is exactly the kind of self-referential humor that made me love this book.  The author continues on in this vein, making anyone who’s ever been forced to read one of those “meaningful” books (or made anyone else read them) both grin and cringe at the same time.  (Gringe?) 

There are plenty of other quotes but I won’t waste space.  Instead, I will just mention that a key plot point is that Librarians have taken control of all information, even reworking maps and satellites so that normal people don’t know that there are extra continents out there (among other things).  The book ends on a bit of a cliffhanger and there are a couple other books in the series.  Can’t wait to read them! 

Overall: Very imaginative, yet oddly reminiscent of Harry Potter (parents are missing, raised by foster family, learns through mysterious gift and visit that he has special powers and is famous in a secret world, etc).  Because the main character makes such a big deal out of librarians being evil, it would be fun to leave it where a mischevious kid will find it and then tell her she can’t have it, wouldn’t like it, etc – and then see if she takes it anyway.  I already have a couple of students in mind for that!

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