Saturday, May 23, 2009

Alcatraz Versus the Evil Librarians. (MG, YA, Everybody Else Too)

Sanderson, Brandon. 2007. Alcatraz versus the Evil Librarians. Scholastic. 307 pages.

So, there I was, tied to an altar made from outdated encyclopedias, about to get sacrificed to the dark powers by a cult of Evil Librarians. As you might imagine, that sort of situation can be quite disturbing. It does funny things to the brain to be in such danger -- in fact, it often makes a person pause and reflect upon his life. If you've never faced such a situation, then you'll simply have to take my word. If, on the other hand, you have faced such a situation, then you are probably dead and aren't likely to be reading this.

Alcatraz versus the Evil Librarians is one of those rare gems of a book where you could open it to practically any page and find treasure. It's funny. It's fun. It's exciting. It's clever. Take for instance, this little treasure found at the beginning of chapter four:

Hushlanders, I'd like to take this opportunity to commend you for reading this book. I realize the difficulty you must have gone through to obtain it -- after all, no Librarian is likely to recommend it, considering the secrets it exposes about their kind.

Actually, my experience has been that people generally don't recommend this kind of book at all. It is far too interesting. Perhaps you have had other kinds of books recommended to you. 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.)

Neither my mother nor my dog dies in this book. I'm rather tired of those types of stories. In my opinion, such fantastical, unrealistic books -- books in which boys live on mountains, families work on farms, or anyone has anything to do with the Great Depression -- have a tendency to rot the brain. To combat such silliness, I've written the volume you now hold -- a solid, true account. Hopefully, it will help anchor you in reality.

So, when people try to give you some book with a shiny round award on the cover, be kind and gracious, but tell them that you don't read "fantasy," because you prefer stories that are real. Then come back here and continue your research on the cult of evil Librarians who secretly rule the world.

I think everyone should read this book. Seriously. It's the story of a boy--Alcatraz Smedry--who receives his inheritance--a bag of sand--on his thirteenth birthday. His parents are dead, and he's been in the foster care system for years. He has difficulties in settling down with families--he's been moved from foster home to foster home--because he has a way of breaking things just by touching them. When we first meet Alcatraz, he accidentally has broken a stove and set the kitchen on fire. Most would say this 'gift' makes Alcatraz extremely unlucky. But, it may just be his saving grace. When a mysterious old man claiming to be his Grandpa Smedry appears the day after his birthday, the boy is in for a shock or two. Fortunately for us readers, we're along for the ride! What follows is one exciting adventure. Grandpa Smedry claims this world is controlled by a cult: a cult of evil Librarians. Evil librarians that have stolen Alcatraz's inheritance: the bag of sand is missing! Can these two team up and reclaim what is rightfully theirs?

© Becky Laney of Becky's Book Reviews
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Tricia 11:33 AM  

I just picked it up at the library yesterday. I can't wait!

DesLily 12:32 PM  

this one sounds like it's about to go on my wish list.. can't do much else right now, but this does sound cute and I could use a smile!

Iryna 12:53 PM  

Really well written review! Do you know what would be really funny? If this book DID end up winning an award. I wonder what readers would say about that excerpt in Chapter 4 then!

Chris 10:16 PM  

Ha! This sounds so awesome!! I can't wait to read this one!

Jules 9:40 AM  

Haha! I may have to make my way down to the library for this. (As I am one of those "evil" librarians" it looks like a funny book. Thanks for the great and entertaining review!

Anonymous,  7:05 PM  

I have this book at home. It's hilarious! I couldn't put it down when I first started reading it, and have sense read it a couple of times over.

Zibilee 5:57 PM  

This looks like a really fun read. Glad you enjoyed it!

Peter Ahlstrom 6:24 PM  

The sequel Alcatraz versus the Scrivener's Bones is also out, and the third book Alcatraz versus the Knights of Crystallia comes out in October.

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