Book Review

Alcatraz Versus the Evil Librarians (Alcatraz #1) – Brandon Sanderson

“I am not a good person.

Oh, I know what the stories say about me. They call me Oculator Dramatus, Hero, Saviour of the Twelve Kingdoms… Those, however, are just rumours. Some are exaggerations; many are outright lies. The truth is far less impressive.

When Mr. Bagsworth first came to me, suggesting that I write my autobiography, I was hesitant. However, I soon realised that this was the perfect opportunity to explain myself to the public.”  

n to next. Alcatraz Smedry doesn’t seem destined for anything other than destruction, and he certainly has no reason to believe that getting kicked out of his latest foster home the day after his 13th birthday will be any different to getting kicked out of all the others. However Alcatraz doesn’t realise that the strange box that turned up on his birthday, with nothing but a note of gobbledegook and a bag of sand inside, was special. Or that he is also special, and that there’s a cult of evil librarians who want that sand more than he could ever understand. With the help of a grandfather who he never knew about Alcatraz must begin his real destiny and defeat the evil librarians to see where to turn next.


Brandon Sanderson, as I understand it, is a massive name in fantasy fiction. I believe he is associated more with adult books rather than YA but a few years ago I was offered an omnibus called The Complete Alcatraz and agreed because I was promise talking dinosaurs and adventure beyond belief. I definitely got it!

The shear size of The Complete Alcatraz has put me off reading it since it landed with a thud on my doorstep back in 2012. I finally decided its taking too much space on my shelf and that I would read it whilst on my maternity leave recently. The Complete Alcatraz has all four books in the series in one neat package and I’ve decided (mainly because I have so far only read one) to review them as separate entities as I would a series.

The first book in the Alcatraz Series, Alcatraz Versus the Evil Librarians, was brilliant and did a fantastic job of introducing the character and his family, who he didn’t even know existed. It introduced a writing style that you don’t often see in YA literature which includes the narrator – Alcatraz himself – break through and directly speak to the reader a lot. It includes an author’s note which really intrigued me as soon as I read it and I really was hooked on the book from the first page.

Saying that it took me a while to read the book. I honestly wasn’t prepared for the level of fantasy because of what it sounded like and the level of foreshadowing in the book. I found myself having to go back and reading over parts of the book again because I felt like I had missed something, or I knew I had missed something and wanted to check to see what it was. There was a lot of referrals to things which were completely unusual for ‘our’ world which took some explaining and often because they were things that were very similar but slightly different I had to take time to process them differently to what I knew them to be. The style of writing was so unused what I am used to reading that it slowed things down too but I actually really loved it at the same time.

The Complete Alcatraz by Brandon SandersonIt was a story of good versus evil and I loved every part of it. The fantasy world blended into the world I know so well made the book so interesting to read and the talking dinosaurs really hit things off for me. I’d say that a high level reader in the middle grade age range would love this book a lot – but as The Complete Alcatraz is so huge, it is now only available as an ebook so buy the separate books if you want them in paper form!

The Complete Alcatraz was published in September 2012 by Gollancz, an Orion Books imprint. My copy was sent to me from the publisher in exchange for an honest review.
To buy the book or for more info please visit:  
Amazon | Hive | Goodreads | Author Website

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