If you're looking for a fun middle-grade adventure written by the one and only Brandon Sanderson, you've got to check out Alcatraz vs. the Evil Librarians. This book also has illustrations by Hayley Lazo, which bring it to the next level.
Alcatraz Smedry has spent his whole life hopping from one foster home to the next. No exaggeration – he's been in over a dozen by this point. He's used to the ways the constant moves upset his life.
So when we say his thirteen birthday changes everything, please understand the full depth of its meaning. A bag of sand, a strange letter from his deceased mother, and the start of the weirdest adventure of a lifetime. That is what this day gives him.
"Remember, despite the fact that this book is being sold as a 'fantasy' novel, you must take all of the things it says extremely seriously, as they are quite important, are in no way silly, and always make sense."
Generally, I find myself adoring most of what Brandon Sanderson writes, but while I enjoyed Alcatraz vs. the Evil Librarians, I didn't love it. And no, I don't think this is simply because it's a middle-grade novel. Younger me would have been okay with this book, but not head over heels.
The whole time I was reading Alcatraz vs. the Evil Librarians, it felt like something was missing. At the end of the day, I think that something is a strong connection between the characters and the reader. The interactions between the two felt shallow, making it harder to be invested in anything Alcatraz (yes, that really is his name) was doing.
Do I still think the series has potential? Oh, absolutely! Not all series start strong and only get better over time. That could very much be the case for Alcatraz vs. the Evil Librarians. I hope it is. I'll probably make a point of reading the following few books just to see how it goes.
On the bright side, I enjoyed Sanderson's twist on powers and abilities. It added comedy, of course, but it was also oddly empowering? What I'm trying to say is that it was a nice reminder that we don't always see our talents for what they are. Sometimes it takes another perspective to realize what they're worth. It's a great message to weave into this otherwise action-filled story.
Thanks to Starscape and #NetGalley for making this book available for review. All opinions expressed are my own.
Read more reviews over at Quirky Cat's Fat Stacks