Review Alcatraz vs the Evil Librarians – Brandon Sanderson

Everything I’d known about the world was a lie.

On my thirteenth birthday, I, Alcatraz Smedry (yes, I got named after a prison, don’t ask) received my inheritance: a bag of sand. And then I accidentally destroyed my foster parents’ kitchen. It’s not my fault, things just break around me, I swear!

I thought the sand was a joke until evil Librarians came to steal it. You’re probably thinking, “Librarians are nice people who recommend good books,” but that’s just what they want you to think! It turns out they’re actually a secret cult keeping the truth from you–a hidden world filled with magical eyeglasses, talking dinosaurs, and knights with crystal swords!

Or so my Grandpa Smedry claimed when he suddenly showed up to rescue me. So now I have to go with him to invade the local library and get that sand back, before it’s used to conquer the world. And Grandpa says how I keep breaking things is actually an amazing talent. There’s no way that can all be true, right?

Will I ever make it back home alive?

Although I have read a lot of Sanderson’s book, this was has managed to escape me until now. But when I saw it on Netgalley I decided to request it, and I was lucky enough to be approved for it.

I really did not know what to expect going into this. Sanderson’s books have been quite a disappointment for me over the last few years, so I didn’t have too high hopes for this one. Then again, this is a middle grade and one of his earlier works, so it could still be great.

And I have to say, I had a good time with this for sure. And yes I also had issues with it… The main issue being the world building. Or kind of lack thereof. Nothing gets explained! Like there are two different worlds but we don’t really get told more about their interactions etc. It is also very America centered… Are the Librarians only there, or have they taken over the whole world? We get some throw away lines to it all, but I need a bit more… I guess we go into more detail in the rest of the series, but I would have liked some more answers now (especially as our main character was also introduced to this other world in this book… he just takes it all in his stride though).

That doesn’t take away from that the magic system in this book is great. Some of it is based on ‘talents’, which seem useless when you first hear them (breaking things, being late, falling over, talking nonsense), but are used very cleverly in the story. Sanderson also makes a clear distinction in this story between magic and technology, which I very much appreciate.

I did very much enjoy the narration, but that is a taste thing for sure! Almost every chapter starts with a break in the story and Alcatraz talking to us directly. One of the chapters even starts with ‘Are you annoyed yet?’ and I can imagine some readers would be. The humour worked for me, and I do think it would also work for its intended audience. Adult readers might find the narrator quite obnoxious and not-funny though.

The plot was just okay for me. Nothing special and a bit tropey, getting drowned by the very present narrative.

Overall this book was a decent read, but nothing spectacular. I doubt I will go out of my way to read the rest of the series, but who knows if I come across some cheap/free copies somewhere.

7 thoughts on “Review Alcatraz vs the Evil Librarians – Brandon Sanderson

    1. I’m always happy to get free books 😋 it was fine… but there is a lot of middle grade out there I’d rather read… especially with the last book being coauthored, Id prob just set myself up for disappointment if I invested a lot of time in the rest of the series.

      Liked by 1 person

  1. Sounds like not going out of your way to get the rest of these books is probably the right choice. Sanderson has been very hit or miss for me, too, so I understand your thoughts about being hesitant to start this one. Honestly, I think that’s going to be my approach to Sanderson’s books for the foreseeable future: maybe read it if it comes my way, but don’t go to any trouble to get it.

    Liked by 1 person

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