Hide this

Results from Google Books

Click on a thumbnail to go to Google Books.

Alcatraz Versus the Evil Librarians by…

Alcatraz Versus the Evil Librarians

by Brandon Sanderson

Other authors: See the other authors section.

Series: Alcatraz Smedry (1)

MembersReviewsPopularityAverage ratingMentions
1,153977,062 (3.69)197
  1. 10
    The Accidental Hero by Matt Myklusch (readafew)
    readafew: I think Jack Blank is very similar to Alcatraz and Harry Potter, though without the overt humor. Worth a read.
  2. 10
    Gregor the Overlander by Suzanne Collins (Othemts)
  3. 10
    Artemis Fowl by Eoin Colfer (Othemts)
  4. 00
    She Is Not Invisible by Marcus Sedgwick (hnau)
    hnau: Alcatraz and Laureth's brother Benjamin both have a talent to break certain things.
  5. 00
    A Box of Unfortunate Events (01-12) The Horrendous Heap by Lemony Snicket (Othemts)
  6. 00
    Little Boy Lost by Eric Hobbs (Othemts)

Sign up for LibraryThing to find out whether you'll like this book.

No current Talk conversations about this book.

» See also 197 mentions

English (95)  German (2)  All (97)
Showing 1-5 of 95 (next | show all)
funny, clever and such a relaxing read. ( )
  Heldin | Oct 15, 2017 |
This book is fantasy! None of it is true. We will be weeding it from our shelves immediately now that I have found it. We librarians are definitely not evil. bwahaha. ( )
  mollypitchermary | Oct 11, 2017 |
I don’t place very much stock in originality when it comes to the books I read. After all, it’s pretty rare to find something truly original, and a story that’s similar to others you’ve read, or that shares similar elements, can still be a great read. It’s all in the execution.

That said, when I do find something that feels truly original, it can be a magical experience. Such is the case with Alcatraz Versus The Evil Librarians. After listening to the writing podcast that Brandon Sanderson is a part of every week for god knows how long, I finally decided to buy pretty much all of his books at once. Alcatraz is the first one I’ve gotten around to reading.

Now, if you were to ask almost anyone what Sanderson’s defining features are as an author they would probably say something like, “Oh that guy? He writes incredibly long epic fantasies with really unique magic systems.”

Alcatraz is not an epic fantasy. It is a young adult book told in first person from the protagonist’s very sarcastic perspective. I’m sure any fan of Sanderson was very confused when they heard about this book.

I, being an unabashed fan of both young adult novels and first-person novels, naturally wound up reading this series before Mistborn, or Elantris, or any of the things that Sanderson is actually “known for.” I have to say that, for a guy who built his career on writing books that are 180 degrees in the opposite direction from this, he’s managed to create one of the best young adult fantasy novels I have ever read.

Okay, okay. I know what you’re thinking. “Stop flapping your gums and tell me why it’s so good!”
Okay, here’s why.

How many young adult fantasy novels have you read where, for all the other merits it might have, the magic/power/skills that the protagonist and other characters have is either generic, cliché, or boring? I know that, for me at least, that’s most of them.

The magic in this book is truly unique. Alcatraz is part of a family line, the members of which each possess a unique gift that at first glance seems like a curse. Take Alcatraz himself, for example. He’s really good at breaking things, and consequently he’s also very good at getting shuffled from foster home to foster home. But when you’re facing down a cult of Evil Librarians breaking things can be very handy indeed. Breaking open doors that are locked; breaking down walls to make your own doorway; even breaking the animated paper golems that the librarians create.

Or take Alcatraz’s grandfather for example. One of the most powerful men in the world. What talent could he possibly have that makes him so powerful? He arrives late to things. Again, at first glance it just seems like an annoyance, but then you realize that it extends to things you wouldn’t think it would. He arrives late to his own death, so bullets miss him. He arrives late to pain, so torture is ineffective. He’s all-around just very, very hard to kill.

The other type of magic in the book is based on glass, and isn’t as unique, but it’s still pretty different and cool. Different types of glass can be used to do different things. Expander’s glass can be used to create a Doctor Who type situation where a space is bigger on the inside than on the outside, for instance. Mainly, though, it’s about oculator lenses. You see, in addition to having their unique talents, Alcatraz and his grandfather are also oculators—powerful people who can use glasses with special lenses to do different things. Some examples of these lenses are: The basic oculator’s lenses which let you see through veils and focus on objects of powerful oculation; the tracker’s lenses which show footprints; The firebringer lenses which shoot a laser-like beam of fire; The torturer’s lens which inflicts unbearable pain but doesn’t physically harm; etc.

Okay, so enough about the magic. We all know Sanderson is great at that. But what about the first-person narrator? Is he funny? Is he annoying? Well, I can definitely see how some people might find him annoying. I personally think he’s hilarious. He’s sarcastic and self-deprecating, which is a surefire recipe to make me like anyone. Perhaps the funniest parts come from sections that, under other circumstances and in other books, would pull you right out of the story. Alcatraz routinely stops to have a little aside (usually at the beginning of a chapter, but sometimes in the middle too), making it repeatedly apparent that he’s writing this book long after his adventures are over. In these asides he makes jokes about writers being horrible people that like to torture with cliffhangers and unsatisfying endings. He takes subtle stabs at classic literature. He’s absolutely fantastic, and if you don’t think so then you simply have no soul, no sense of humor, and no taste, and that’s all there is to it.

The other characters are equally as interesting. Bastille is a knight of Crystalia sworn to protect grandpa Smedry, but all her life she’s wanted to be an Oculator, which is a genetic gift that can’t be learned. Consequently she’s studied everything Oculator-related and drops a lot of knowledge on Alcatraz about all this magic power stuff he’s doing and having done to him all the while frustrated and jealous that he has what she never can and knows absolutely nothing about it.

Alcatraz also brings along two cousins on his adventure. They both have talents, but nothing quite as awesome as breaking stuff or arriving late to things. One is able to say nonsense, and one trips when there’s danger. Neither are oculators. Both are hilarious.

And that’s pretty much all there is to say. I could tell you about the seven-foot tall dinosaurs that talk in British accents and are overly polite. I could tell you about the clever stab at Harry Potter that’s made on the very last page. I could go on and on about this book, but that’s the point isn’t it? You don’t know me, and you don’t know how well my taste matches up to yours. What you do know is that somebody loves this book so much that they’re willing to go on and on about it, and maybe-- just maybe--you could love it too.

( )
  ForeverMasterless | Apr 23, 2017 |
Maddeningly hilarious; this book by Brandon Sanderson (probably my favorite author) can best be described as complete ridiculousness, smooshed together with the fantastic, coated with action, and sprinkled with introspection. This is a great book which is especially wonderful for kids... or kids at heart.

Also, the audiobook recording is excellent; the reader could not have done better!

Rutabaga. ( )
  yrthegood1staken | Feb 24, 2017 |
Very very strange book. I'd like to meet Brandon Sanderson. He must be a real trip and what an imagination. It is not my favorite genre; fantasy, but I got into the book. I wrote Battle of the Books Questions for it so I really read it in an indepth manner. I wonder if my students will like this book. It has a lot of violence and they ususally like that. ( )
  jothebookgirl | Jan 3, 2017 |
Showing 1-5 of 95 (next | show all)
For all its self-aware preciosity, this still stands as a happily action-packed romp, with just the right amount of repartee between Alcatraz and his cantankerous teenage protector Bastille, and a cliffhanger ending that promises more of the same. Plus dinosaurs in tweed vests. Who could ask for more?
added by Katya0133 | editHorn Book Magazine (Jan 1, 2008)
Like Lemony Snicket and superhero comics rolled into one (and then revved up on steroids), this nutty novel isn't for everyone, but it's also sure to win passionate fans.
added by Katya0133 | editPublishers Weekly (Nov 19, 2007)
Though there's intentionally more humor than drama, Alcatraz becomes a more complex figure by the time his adventure is through as he discovers the value of friendship, courage, and family. Readers who prefer fantasy with plenty of humor should enjoy entering Alcatraz's strange but amusing world.
added by Katya0133 | editSchool Library Journal, Steven Engelfried (Nov 1, 2007)
Alcatraz often interrupts his story with comments about reading, sometimes predicting accurately that we won't believe the events on the page. He doubts that librarians will recommend this book. He may be right.
added by sad787d | editKirkus (Sep 1, 2007)

» Add other authors (3 possible)

Author nameRoleType of authorWork?Status
Brandon Sandersonprimary authorall editionscalculated
Lungstrass, CharlotteTranslatormain authorsome editionsconfirmed
Brundage, ScottCover artistsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Lazo, HayleyIllustratorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
McWade, CharlieNarratorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
You must log in to edit Common Knowledge data.
For more help see the Common Knowledge help page.
Series (with order)
Canonical title
Original title
Alternative titles
Original publication date
Important places
Important events
Related movies
Awards and honors
For my father, Winn Sanderson, who bought me books
First words
I am not a good person. (Foreword)
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. (Chapter 1)
Some people assume that authors write books because we have vivid imaginations and want to share our vision. Other people assume that authors write because we are bursting with stories, and therefore must scribble those stories down in moments of creative propondidty.
Both groups are completely wrong. Authors write books for one, and only one, reason: because we like to torture people.
Take for instance, the word I used above. Propondidty. There is no such word — I made it up. Why? Because it amused me to think of thousands of readers looking up a nonsense word in their dictionaries.
You could even scan to the end and read the last page. Know that by doing so, however, you would violate every holy and honorable storytelling principle known to man, thereby throwing the universe into chaos and causing grief to untold millions.
Your choice.
By now, it is probably very late at night, and you have stayed up to read this book when you should have gone to sleep. If this is the case, then I commend you for falling into my trap. It is a writer's greatest pleasure to hear that someone was kept up until the unholy hours of the morning reading one of his books. It goes back to authors being terrible people who delight in the suffering of others. Plus, we get a kick back from the caffeine industry.
Last words
Disambiguation notice
Publisher's editors
Publisher series
Original language

References to this work on external resources.

Wikipedia in English (2)

Book description
Haiku summary

Amazon.com Product Description (ISBN 0439925525, Mass Market Paperback)

The evil Librarians are coming!

A hero with an incredible talent...for breaking things. A life-or-death mission...to rescue a bag of sand. A fearsome threat from a powerful secret network...the evil Librarians.
Alcatraz Smedry doesn't seem destined for anything but disaster. On his 13th birthday he receives a bag of sand, which is quickly stolen by the cult of evil Librarians plotting to take over the world. The sand will give the Librarians the edge they need to achieve world domination. Alcatraz must stop them!...by infiltrating the local library, armed with nothing but eyeglasses and a talent for klutziness.

(retrieved from Amazon Thu, 12 Mar 2015 18:01:03 -0400)

(see all 4 descriptions)

On his thirteenth birthday, foster child Alcatraz Smedry receives a bag of sand which is immediately stolen by the evil Librarians who are trying to take over the world, and Alcatraz is introduced to his grandfather and his own special talent, and told that he must use it to save civilization.… (more)

» see all 3 descriptions

LibraryThing Author

Brandon Sanderson is a LibraryThing Author, an author who lists their personal library on LibraryThing.

profile page | author page

Quick Links

Popular covers


Average: (3.69)
1 9
1.5 2
2 26
2.5 5
3 80
3.5 29
4 120
4.5 17
5 66

Recorded Books

An edition of this book was published by Recorded Books.

» Publisher information page


About | Contact | Privacy/Terms | Help/FAQs | Blog | Store | APIs | TinyCat | Legacy Libraries | Early Reviewers | Common Knowledge | 123,940,525 books! | Top bar: Always visible