Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Alcatraz Versus the Shattered Lens (MG/YA)

Alcatraz Versus The Shattered Lens. Brandon Sanderson. 2010. Scholastic. 304 pages.
So there I was, holding a pink teddy bear in my hand. It had a red bow and an inviting, cute, bearlike smile. Also, it was ticking.
"Now what?" I asked.
"Now you throw it, idiot!" Bastille said urgently.

Alcatraz Smedry is back for his fourth adventure. (Alcatraz would want me to tell you it is yet another volume in his biography--not a fantasy novel at all.) The first three volumes are Alcatraz Versus the Evil Librarians, Alcatraz Versus the Scrivener's Bones, and Alcatraz Versus the Knights of Chrystallia. While we still don't know how Alcatraz ends up tied to an altar of outdated encyclopedias, readers do finally see how Alcatraz ended up a hero in the Free Kingdoms. For in this fourth adventure story, it is up to Alcatraz and his friends (and family) to save the kingdom of Mokia from the invading army of Evil Librarians. Can Alcatraz make the most of his talents? Can he lead a country--a kingdom--into battle? Can he handle the responsibility?

I love Alcatraz Smedry. I do. He is a great narrator!
If you've ever thought that books are boring, it's because you don't know how to read them correctly. From now on, when you read a book, I want you to scream the words of the novel out loud while reading them, then do exactly what the characters are doing in the story.
Trust me, it will make books way more exciting. Even dictionaries. Particularly dictionaries. So go ahead and try it out with this next part of this book. If you do it right, you'll win the bonus prize. (37)

Change. It's important to change. I, for instance, change my underwear every day. Hopefully you do too. If you don't, please stay downwind.
Change is frightening. Few of us ever want things to change. (Well, things other than underwear.) But change is also fascinating--in fact, it's necessary. Just ask Heraclitus. (56)

In the year 1288, if you were to pass by an old acquaintance on the way to Ye Old Chain Mail Shoppe and call him "nice," you'd actually be calling him an idiot.
If it were the year 1322 instead -- and you were on your way to the bookshop to pick up the new wacky comedy by a guy named Dante -- when you call someone "nice" you would be saying that they were timid.
In 1380, if you called someone "nice," you'd be saying they were fussy.
In 1405, you'd be calling them dainty.
In 1500, you'd be calling them careful.
By the 1700s -- when you were off to do some crowd surfing at the new Mozart concert -- you'd be using the word nice to mean "agreeable."
Sometimes, it's difficult to understand how much change there is all around us. Even language changes, and the same word can mean different things depending on how, where, and when it was said. The word awful used to mean "deserving of awe" -- full of awe. The same as awesome. Once, the word brave meant "cowardly." The word girl meant a child of either gender.
(So next time you're with a mixed group of friends, you should call them "girls" instead of "guys." Assuming you're not too brave, nice, nice, nice, or nice.)
People change too. In fact, they're always changing. We like to pretend that the people we know stay the same, but they change moment by moment as they come to new conclusions, experience new things, think new thoughts. Perhaps, as Heraclitus said, you can never step in the same river twice...but I think a more powerful metaphor would have been this: You can never meet the same person twice. (224-5)
I loved this one. I thought it was a great addition to a fun series of fantasy novels. If you're looking for action, adventure, fantasy, and humor...then consider reading the Alcatraz books! They're great fun!!!

© Becky Laney of Becky's Book Reviews

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