For those of you who aren't familiar with the series, here's the blurb for the first book:
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.There are four books in the series so far: Alcatraz Versus the Evil Librarians, Alcatraz Versus the Scrivener's Bones, Alcatraz Versus the Knights of Crystallia, and Alcatraz Versus the Shattered Lens. Brandon Sanderson, the author, is primarily a fantasy writer, famous for writing the latter Wheel of Time books after Robert Jordan's death. The Alcatraz series is unlike anything else he writes and are the only middle grade books in his repertoire so far. I, for one, am hoping he writes more for this age group, since I thoroughly enjoyed these.
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 klutzines.
The best thing, by far, about these books is the incredibly self-aware humor. The narration is downright hilarious, what with Alcatraz rambling off on a new topic at the beginning of every chapter, and his repeated breaking of the fourth wall (what a talented boy he is) every couple of scenes or so. The narration is only rivaled by the sheer ridiculousness of the story itself. One minute the gang is sneaking through a heavily guarded library, and next one of the Smedry talents activates and all hell breaks loose. It's a wonderfully schizophrenic story with all the wonder and joy of childhood packed into a literary smack in the face. The fourth book ends with much of the story nicely tied away, but with much room for sequels. Sanderson's contract with Scholastic was only for four books, though, and he's very busy with his high fantasy books. However, Sanderson has promised that he will write a fifth book someday, although it's anyone's guess as to when.
I loved these books. Plain and simple-- loved them. Sanderson wrote them as a way to sort of cleanse his pallet after writing a giant fantasy novel and I'd suggest reading them in a similar fashion. The Alcatraz series is utterly hilarious, extremely witty, and remarkably self-aware, but should be spaced out in between other books so the childish humor doesn't get old. I'd recommend these books to anyone who likes to laugh and doesn't take reading too seriously. Anyone who liked The Phantom Tollbooth by Norton Juster should definitely give this a try, and fans of Piers Anthony's Xanth series will find similar avenues of humor in Sanderson's work here.
So that's two down on my list of books to read, and... a lot to go. Next up is Variant by Robison Wells!