Meet MC; his name is Al short for Alcatraz (it is not his fault the evil librarians use the most famous names of his dynasty for the most notorious prisons). The book starts with poor guy being tied to a bunch of outdated encyclopedias and is about to be sacrificed (Indiana Jones and the Tempe of Doom way) – say what you want about the evil librarians, but they sure got style.
Chronologically it all started innocently enough. Alcatraz was an orphan who was changing foster parents faster than you can say, “supercalifragilisticexpialidocious”. He had no clue about his parents or any living relatives until he received a gift for his thirteenth birthday, supposedly from his father. Inside the package there was a bunch of sand and nothing else. It seemed like a pointless poor joke except for the fact that the said sand caused Alcatraz to meet a crazy guy claiming to be his grandfather and to follow him down the rabbit hole – literally speaking.
You see, the world as we know it is controlled by evil librarians through careful distribution and suppression of information. They are about to conquer what remained outside of their influence and Alcatraz had the key to opposing them. Whether he wanted or not, he was in the game: a gun pointed at you from a blank point range makes you decide which side you are on really fast.
If all of the about sounds like a cliché, you are completely right. Brandon Sanderson makes fun of a lot of them among other things. Do not take this book seriously as it is not supposed to and you will like it.
Brandon Sanderson has a lot of dedicated fans. For this reason I am very surprised at the relative obscurity of this series which I would not hesitate to call quite underrated. I forgot the last time I read equally good humorous YA fantasy. I also learned that Sanderson can write funny humorous books – a lot of people can write humorous books, but funny is something only few succeed in. When the book is not funny it is at least amusing.
One example of this: there is a guy who has a very powerful talent: he is always late. How powerful the talent it? It turned out the guy is impossible to kill with a gun as he would be late for the meeting with his bullet. Another guy has a talent for very effective falling down. Once again it turns out he does it right before a real danger so if you see him doing this you better follow his example and hope you hit the floor faster than him.
My only complaint about the book is the following. The narrator – Alcatraz himself – often breaks the fourth wall. While it is always amusing, for me it comes out way over the top and sometimes forced to be really funny. This is even though one such breakage contains possibly the best part of the book: I am talking about Alcatraz’s musing about sadistic authors – spot on. This in my only complaint, but it is a big one.
To make a long story short the rating is firm 4 stars and I will most definitely continue reading the series. Avoid it like plague if you are in the mood for something serious like a book about a dying dog, or something similar (I am quoting Alcatraz here), otherwise read it and have a good laugh. All hail evil librarians!!!