Review: Alcatraz vs The Evil Librarians

Alcatraz vs. the Evil Librarians (Alcatraz, #1)Alcatraz vs. the Evil Librarians by Brandon Sanderson
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

If you are the type of person who takes yourself seriously, the type of person who likes things to progress in a calm, logical manner, who hates being lied to, and prefers sheets of paper that don’t get up and walk around the room like hulking monsters, this is NOT the book for you.
If, on the other hand, you are someone who doesn’t need the ending to match the beginning of a story, someone willing to believe in talking dinosaurs and hidden continents, you just might enjoy this book.

In some ways, Alcatraz vs The Evil Librarians is a book of writing advice. (Or maybe I’ve just spent too much time at lectures lately) The beginning of each chapter — with the exception of one, for which the author apologizes later — is an interjection from the author (the narrator writing from some point in the future). He brings attention to the writing mechanics he is using to manipulate his readers. Things like a powerful hook at the beginning, cliffhangers at the end of each chapter, character flaws and growth, etc. These are all wrapped in the author’s voice, humorous and callous. He also talks about why it is important to frustrate readers, and how authors love to torture people and use books to avoid pesky things like getting arrested for murder.

There are two reasons I gave this book 4 rather than 5 stars. The first is that, while I don’t mind being manipulated by an author for effect, I am not a fan of outright lies. The second is due to the fact that it gave me something akin to a stomach ache. Let me explain: I have a serious sweet-tooth. In fact, I ate two whole slices of cheesecake before bed last night. But there are some desserts that are so rich, even I will start to feel ill if I try to tackle them all in one sitting.
I love humor, and this book has that in spades. However, especially at the beginning of the story, the humor is packed in so tightly that it became overwhelming and I had to set the book aside for a while. Therefore, I believe this book is best enjoyed in small portions, possibly accompanied by seltzer water.

As for recommendations, I think people who enjoyed Lemony Snicket’s Series of Unfortunate Events would probably like this book — though this is coming from a librarian who, as I understand it, only recommend “important” books about boys whose dogs or mothers die, so you’ll have to take it with a grain of salt.

View all my reviews

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