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Marilee J. Layman

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07:50 pm: Alcatraz versus The Evil Librarians by Brandon Sanderson
This is a middle-grade fantasy and the story is pretty cute. It's a little moralistic and I was totally put off by the idea that it was actually written by Alcatraz, but they had to use Sanderson's name in our lands. I think most kids would believe it was Alcatraz without the silliness and that silliness took up about a third of each chapter.

Alcatraz is a 13-year-old who has been in foster care his whole life. He's had many foster parents because he breaks everything he sees. Not on purpose, usually, but he just touches something and it falls apart. On his thirteenth birthday he gets a package of sand in the mail and this is when he finds out why he's been in foster care. You see, all the countries/continents we consider part of Earth are actually the Hushlands that are ruled by evil Librarians. The Free Kingdoms are continents filling up the oceans (who needs all that water?) and they know the truth. Alcatraz' family, the Smedleys, have been infiltrating the Hushlands and fighting the Librarians for many generations. The Oculators, which Alcatraz and his grandfather Leavenworth are, fight with lenses made from different special sands. Each lens has a different power -- firebringer, torture, tracking, etc. -- and Alcatraz has to learn how to use them quickly because a Librarian has stolen his birthday sands!

The book involves infiltration of a library/castle, small British dinos, a Samoan-like anthropologist/gun expert, and a thirteen-year-old girl who is their knight.

I'm afraid the part I found most interesting is probably not meant to be the most interesting in this or the next four books (which I don't expect to read). You see, the Free Kingdoms consider guns primitive because they have so many parts and can break, when you can just swing a sword around without trouble. They think the same of elevators vs. stairs and computers vs. pencils. It's an interesting idea, but not sustainable.

The idea that Librarians rule is not supported -- he does say at the end that government, organizations, etc., don't know they're ruled, but gives no information.

I read a fair amount of YA, even at middle-grade, and I like a lot of the good stuff. I really don't know if someone in middle school would like this or not. I don't recommend it for adults, and it makes me wonder just how the last volume of Wheel of Time (heh, typed World of Tiers first) will turn out.

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From:anghara
Date:May 20th, 2008 11:55 pm (UTC)
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You might want to give my YA a try. I would be interested in your thoughts on it...
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From:mjlayman
Date:May 21st, 2008 12:19 am (UTC)
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The library system has four copies of Gift of the Unmage and three are checked out. I requested the fourth. They have Spellspam in the process of coming into the system and I'm first in the hold queue. I'll let you know. :)
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From:anghara
Date:May 21st, 2008 12:22 am (UTC)
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I look forward to it!
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From:kgbooklog
Date:May 21st, 2008 01:00 am (UTC)
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I don't recommend it for adults, and it makes me wonder just how the last volume of Wheel of Time (heh, typed World of Tiers first) will turn out.

I liked it. Sure the worldbuilding wasn't deep, but I think that was a deliberate choice to make it more accessible to younger readers. I do think he was trying too hard at times to be YA, but there were also several moments I found myself smiling; usually at Alcatraz's attitude towards the reader, stuff like "I'm not calling you names. Yet. (see Chapter 15)".

His adult novels have much better worldbuilding, and I do think he's a good choice for finishing WoT; not my first choice, but my first choices probably wouldn't want to. Take a look at his Mistborn trilogy (third book coming in October) as an example of how he handles epic fantasy.
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From:mjlayman
Date:May 21st, 2008 01:06 am (UTC)
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I smiled several times through myself, but there was just so much weight in the beginning of most chapters and things I had a lot of trouble suspending disbelief for. Then the device of pretending the physical book was by Alcatraz in a pseudonym. Moron!
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From:mjlayman
Date:May 21st, 2008 01:06 am (UTC)
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Forgot to say that I rarely read adult fantasy. A lot of it is too much the same.
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