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A Reader of Fictions: One Little Slip - Barenaked Ladies

A Reader of Fictions

Book Reviews for Just About Every Kind of Book

Monday, April 4, 2011

One Little Slip - Barenaked Ladies

Alcatraz Versus the Evil Librarians
Alcatraz, Book 1

Author: Brandon Sanderson
Pages: 308
Publisher: Scholastic

Brief Summary:
Alcatraz Smedry, sarcastic thirteen year old with serious skill in breaking things, has been passed from foster home to foster home all of his life. Wondering why? Did you not read how he is really good at breaking things? Seriously, he cannot open a door without the doorknob coming off in his hand. He always thought he was cursed, but then on his thirteenth birthday, he received a package from his parents containing his inheritance. And it was some sand. And then, suddenly, there's a man claiming to be his grandfather at the front door, a man with a gun in the kitchen, and his inheritance is missing, stolen by the evil librarians that rule the world. But at least he has his Talent of breaking things to help him as he and the Smedry crew raid the main branch of the library to get the sand back!

Review:
As a librarian, there was absolutely no way I could pass up this book. Evil librarians? I was so there. And boy did this book deliver the absurdities for which I was hoping. The story is told in a breaking the fourth wall kind of way, wherein the author (Sanderson claims to be Alcatraz who is pretending to be Sanderson so the librarians will not ban the book...or something like that) constantly puts the narrative on hold to talk to the reader. This tactic can seriously backfire and is not one I am generally a fan of. Sanderson pulled it off quite well here, largely because the character of Alcatraz has enough swagger, sarcasm and know-it-all-ness to make it seem appropriate and funny.

Similarly, Sanderson manages to sell the crazy elements of the plot by playing them up. He draws attention to all of the weird things and shrugs his shoulders literarily, making you do so too. (I'm not sure if that makes sense, but it does to me.) For example, I was skeptical of the Smedry Talents. Breaking things had some obvious utility, but tripping and arriving late sure did not seem at all helpful. But Sanderson made it work. So props to him.

Speaking of Sanderson, I got to see him speak at ALA 2010 and he seemed like a nice, nerdy gentleman. He talked in his spiel about how much he loves libraries and what an impact they had on him as a child. He even threw in a quote that I am fairly certain is a nod to himself as a teen. "The rebellious, trouble-making types looked through the fantasy section" (285). No wonder he believes that information is "the real power in this world," and that, since the librarians control the information, they could control the power (97). Awesome! I like the way this man thinks.

Why should you read this book?
  • Sarcastic narrator = best kind of narrator
  • Opening sentence: "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" (1).
  • The most kickass character is a 13 year old girl
  • Off the wall, hilarious crazy moments
  • Book-loving dinosaurs that speak with British accents
  • Seriously, did you miss out on the evil librarians? Evil librarians!
"It was a recipe for disaster
A four course meal of no sirree

It seemed that happily ever after

Was happy everyone was after me
"

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1 Comments:

Blogger Kelly said...

That book sounds amazing! I'm pretty sure I need to read it. Any book with evil librarians sounds like a worthwhile book to read!

April 5, 2011 at 8:11 AM  

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