Daily Archives: August 24, 2012

Alcatraz vs. the Evil Librarians

by Brandon Sanderson
Overall: 4 out of 5 stars

Category: Fantasy / Sci Fi

Personal Evaluation: “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.

Overall, I found it 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 mischievous 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.

What might interest children: The fast-paced adventure, the suddenly being whisked away to a magical world where you’re not just an average kid… basically, a lot of the same elements that kids liked in Harry Potter. Kids who actually feel that librarians are a bit evil will probably be drawn in by the title.