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Alcatraz #4: Alcatraz Versus the Shattered…

Alcatraz #4: Alcatraz Versus the Shattered Lens (edition 2010)

by Brandon Sanderson

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Title:Alcatraz #4: Alcatraz Versus the Shattered Lens
Authors:Brandon Sanderson
Info:Scholastic Press (2010), Edition: 1, Hardcover, 304 pages
Collections:Your library

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The Shattered Lens by Brandon Sanderson



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Don't even tell me this is the last book. Seriously, Sanderson? You couldn't be arsed to tear yourself away from the Wheel of Time series to give your own series a proper ending? Ugh. Which is a shame, since the fourth book is where Alcatraz grows up and learns that being in a war means making horrible decisions beyond your control and people die without you wanting them to and all the wartime issues geeks like me want in their fantasy. And then he rushed the hell out of the last two chapters and utterly killed the mood. He ended it on a cliffhanger! He has at least one more book left of story! How is this - I ask again - the last bloody book in the series?

Also, a lot of the 'meta' humor in the beginning of the book was seriously grating. It was amusing when it was subtle, but you can't layer those kinds of jokes on with a trowel and expect it to have the same effect.

Sanderson, great book, but I am slightly disappointed. Or maybe you'll make this right in the end, once you finish the WoT series and remember Alcatraz Smedry and his war against the librarians. Please do. ( )
  SarahHayes | Feb 20, 2017 |
the Librarians are invading the remainder of the free lands, Alcatraz's dad runs off to find a way to give everybody Smedry powers and Alcatraz ends up in the middle of a battle. Not nearly as funny and smart alecky as the previous books. Either I'm used to it, or Sanderson is forcing it. Wraps things up in such a way that this could be the last book [even though events are not wrapped up] but leaves openings for another [probably if publishers will give it a go]. ( )
  BookstoogeLT | Dec 10, 2016 |
I've been reading this as a nighttime store with my 7yo daughter, and it's a great read. It's not fantastic, to the point that I would read it again, but it's very well done. The end of the book has a surprising twist, such that I wasn't expecting, and curious how Brandon will work on it in the 5th and final book. This book, as the others in the series, and targeted towards preteens, and is a delightful story with delightful characters. ( )
  atoponce | Jan 29, 2016 |
Sanderson, B. (2010). Alcatraz Versus the Shattered Lens. New York: Scholastic Press.

292 pages.

Internetz, you have not been witness to it. But a great battle of wills was just averted. When my co-assistant and I learned that our boss was receiving an advance copy of the fourth book in the Alcatraz series, we went to war with one another. My boss's office was left in far from perfect condition. Her many books were tossed from their slumping shelves, torn to pieces. Shredded pages rained down like apocalyptic ash.

Who would get to read the Alcatraz book first?! She was willing to skip classes to read it. I was willing to set aside Dudley the Dissertation for Alcatraz. Who would win?

Perhaps some great power sensed that another war to end all wars was brewing. Perhaps somebody over at Scholastic can't read. But we were sent TWO COPIES of Alcatraz Versus the Shattered Lens. One for each assistant. (Our boss doesn't get to read it. When we informed her of this, she took it surprisingly well.)

Appetizer: The fourth book of Alcatraz's memoirs can be thought of as "the part where everything goes wrong, and then Alcatraz has a cheese sandwich." Alcatraz's words, not mine.

War has broken out between the librarians and the free kingdom of Mokia. Alcatraz, his friends and family hope to send reinforcements. But the Knights and other kingdoms won't help. So it's up to Alcatraz and his friends to figure out a plan. There's just no guarantee that it'll be a good one.

The resulting story involves a better understanding of the Smedry talents, meeting another Smedry cousin (this one is bad at math), lots of stoopidity and a nakey Alcatraz. (Naked, to you adult types.)


I am SO amazed by Brandon Sanderson's ability to be consistently HILARIOUS throughout his children's books. I've tried to write funny in the past and it almost always ends painfully for me. And not in a humorous painful way with a bucket on my head and with boxers with little hearts exposed. Just painfully with me deciding to limp back into my serious (with moments of levity!) fiction.

(Sidenote: Have you heard of Writing Excuses? Sanderson co-hosts regular fifteen-minute podcasts about various aspects of creative writing. The podcasts are essentially an awesome writing MFA program that you can listen to at your leisure for free. I highly recommend listening!)

Where was I?


The fourth Alcatraz book still had me chuckling. In this round, I especially liked Sanderson's approach to chapter titles. Some chapters are missing. (Gaps! The reader can fill them in! Funzies!) Others are titled according to some advanced math (Or advanced math for me. My brain stopped accounting for what those crazy numbers were doing after eighth grade.) Maybe the chapter titles are just nonsense. I wouldn't know the difference!

My biggest complaint about the book is the cover. I know I'm not really the target audience, but I really don't like the photoshopped appearance. Especially since it seems like Bastille is in the exact same position on the covers of both the third and fourth books.

Call me crazy, but I don't think that's the best stance for fighting a knight OR a giant robot. I guess I should just be impressed that they used the same models. Way to be cohesive!

It is worth noting that this book ends with more problems left unresolved than the other books so far. It gave the book a "the end of The Empire Strikes Back" feel. To be concluded in the next installment. So, stay tuned!

So now the wait for the fifth and final (*weeps*) book begins.


Dinner Conversation:

"I am an idiot.
You should know this already, if you've read the previous three volumes of my autobiography" (Author's Foreword).

"So, there I was, holding a pink teddy bear in my hand. It had a red bow and an inviting, cute, bearlike smile. Also, it was ticking" (p. 1).

"We'd need to put someone in danger who is so valuable the knights have to respond. But this person also has to be uncompromisingly stoopid. It's idiocy on a grand scale to send oneself directly to a palace on the brink of destruction, surrounded by Librarians, in a doomed kingdom! Why, they'd have to be stoopid on a colossal degree. Of the likes previously unseen to all of humankind!"
And suddenly, for some reason, all eyes in the room turned toward me" (pp. 27-28).

"If you've ever thought that books are boring, it's because you don't know how to read them correctly. From now on, when you read a book, I want you to scream the words of the novel out loud while reading them, then do exactly what the characters are doing in the story.
Trust me, it will make books way more exciting. Even dictionaries. Particularly dictionaries. So go ahead and try it out with this next part of the book. If you do it right, you'll win the bonus prize" (p. 37).

"...I haven't talked much about religion in these books.
This is intentional, mostly from a self-preservation standpoint. I've discovered that talking about religion has a lot in common with wearing a catcher's mask: Both give people liberty to throw things at you. (And in the case of religion, sometimes the "things" are lightning bolts.)" (p. 107).

"...We are faced by superior numbers and superior firepower. In the moments before you arrived, I had made the difficult decision to surrender. I was on my way to the wall to announce it to the Librarians."
The words hung in the air like a foul stench--the kind that everyone notices but doesn't want to point out, for fear of being named the one who caused it" (p. 113-114).

Tasty Rating: !!!!! ( )
  SJKessel | Jun 8, 2012 |
In the fourth book of the Alcatraz series, Alcatraz travels to Mokia to aid in the war the Free Kingdomers there are waging against the Evil Librarians. In the process, he'll learn more about the nature of Smedry Talents and the reason for the conflict between his Librarian mother and his father. Of course, silliness abounds as well.

These books continue to serve their purpose as silly and fun, although this book is darker than previous entries. Alcatraz is grappling with serious issues of identity, the ramifications of his Talent, and begins to recognize that the conflict between Librarians and Free Kingdomers is not as black and white as he originally thought it was. I didn't find the running gag of this novel as amusing as previous ones (mostly because I love things to be spelled properly). However, I did enjoy the bizarre chapter numbering in this volume (my personal favourite being NCC 1701). The chapter where the characters only speak using dialogue from Hamlet is also pretty amusing, although it may go over the heads of the intended audience a little. And of course, there are jokes about librarians. This time around my favourite passage was the following:

As you have probably noticed, Librarians don't conform to most people's stereotypes. Most of them don't even have stereos. Beyond that, they're not sweet, book-loving scholars; they're maniacal cultists bent on ruling the world. They don't like to shush people. (Unless it means quieting them permanently by sinking them in the bay with their feet tied to an iron shelving cart.) In fact, most Librarians I've seen are quite fond of loud explosions.

A satisfying continuation of the series. ( )
  MickyFine | Jul 11, 2011 |
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Author nameRoleType of authorWork?Status
Brandon Sandersonprimary authorall editionscalculated
Brundage, ScottCover artistsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
de Ocampo, RamonNarratorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Lazo, HayleyIllustratorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
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Amazon.com Product Description (ISBN 0439925576, Hardcover)

The fourth and final book in the fabulously funny Alcatraz Smedry series!

Alcatraz Smedry, the boy with the incredible Talent for breaking things, has a lot to prove and little time in which to do it. In this final adventure, Alcatraz faces an army of librarians--and their giant robots--as they battle to win the kingdom of Mokia. If the librarians win the war, everything that Alcatraz has fought so hard for could end in disaster. Alcatraz must face the robots, the evil librarians, and even his own manipulative mother! But will he be able to save the kingdom of Mokia and the Free Kingdoms from the wrath of the librarians before everything comes crashing down?

(retrieved from Amazon Thu, 12 Mar 2015 18:18:22 -0400)

When a hero is needed to save the doomed kingdom of Mokia from the evil Librarians, thirteen-year-old Alcatraz Smedry, whose family talents include getting lost and breaking things, answers the call.

(summary from another edition)

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