I’m confused. Let me start by saying that I won this book in a Goodreads giveaway, and I have not read the first three. I am not sure it would have helped. If Brandon Sanderson is able to keep all of the goings-on in what is now five books straight, he is some sort of genius.
I am also going to say that I am very, very amused by this book. It’s a mid-grade (I think) series, and if the kids you know like funny stories with upside-down magic and twists and surprises everywhere, they should love the Alcatraz series.
Alcatraz Smedry is a wizard- of sorts. His family all possess some sort of Talent. His grandfather’s talent is to be late to everything. His uncle gets lost- all the time. Alcatraz breaks things. Not your typical magical talents, by any means. But there lies the true cleverness of the stories. The Smedry’s are able to use those Talents in unusual ways to get out of predicaments. Rather than wave a wand or incant a spell and save the day, a Smedry might use bad math skills to create a stockpile of exploding teddy bears. (Yes, exploding teddy bears. I said it was unusual.)
Alcatraz also breaks the fourth wall consistently throughout the story, something most writers are cautioned against. Here, it works very well. The reader is encouraged to act out the story- aloud and with enthusiasm. Well, except for a few bits where things could go well wrong. But don’t worry- Alcatraz will let you know about those.
Each chapter begins with an introduction, which provides some background and clears up some of the confusion. Or not. Mostly not. Chapter numbers are, well, actually, they aren’t. On purpose, to confuse those nasty Librarians. The book starts with Chapter Two (Chapter One was boring), moves on to Chapter Six, and then to Chapter Pi. It gets worse from there.
I loved the book, even without knowing the back stories from the first three. I am going to read those at some point, just because I enjoyed this one so much. I laughed and cringed. I cheered Alcatraz on. I was sorry when it was over. Mr. Sanderson, if I were not already a fan, I would certainly be one now. Do your kids a favor- get them started on the Alcatraz versus the Evil Librarians series. Read them yourself. And laugh. Oh, and if you figure it all out, let me know, okay?
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