Wednesday, January 20, 2021

Alcatraz versus the Evil Librarians sounds like Daniel Pinkwater came up with the name

The only reason I found out that the Alcatraz books by Brandon Sanderson even existed was because I was researching snarky narrators on TVTropes. (TVTropes: we will make your time binging Wikipedia seem productive)

A young orphan named Alcatraz Smedry learns that he is actually part of a powerful, magical family that is part of a sort of secret war against the vast evil empire that is also all the librarians. I say sort of because there are three whole continents whose existence the librarians have hidden that know all about the librarian war.

One of the things that is very striking about the series is how goofy many of the innate concepts are (libraries are dens of Illuminati-style evil overlords, the Smedries have super powers that would be a stretch in the Legion of Substitute Heroes, magic glasses are the ultimate tools,  the main character is named Alcatraz) but how deadly serious they are taken.

In a lot of books about a kid or kids who are dealing with some sort of hidden conflict, the bad guys don’t really seem to be out to hurt anyone and the conflicts are almost cozy in their scope. In the Alcatraz series, the bad guys are perfectly willing to torture and kill the protagonists and the scope of the overall plot is global.

I came across the series because I was looking for examples of Lemony Snicket narrators. The Alcatraz series doesn’t actually use one. Instead, it is first person narrator who is unreliable, rambling and very snarky. (From spoilers, I learned he has a good reason for his attitude. Still, I wouldn’t have read the books if the spoilers hadn’t interested me) 

I haven’t really discussed the plot. The plot is fun but doesn’t have any real surprises. For me, the voice and the world building are what make me want to read the Alcatraz series and they are enough to make me want to keep on going and finish the series.

No comments:

Post a Comment