Publication Order of Alcatraz Books
|Alcatraz Versus the Evil Librarians||(2007)||Hardcover Paperback Kindle|
|Alcatraz Versus the Scrivener's Bones||(2008)||Hardcover Paperback Kindle|
|Alcatraz Versus the Knights of Crystallia||(2009)||Hardcover Paperback Kindle|
|Alcatraz Versus the Shattered Lens||(2010)||Hardcover Paperback Kindle|
About The Alcatraz Series:
Brandon Sanderson, born in December of 1975, was an aspiring author throughout his high school and college years, but it wasn’t until 2005 when he first became a published author. His book, Elantris, is a standalone epic fantasy novel that won the Romantic Times Award for the Best Epic Fantasy of 2005 and was also chosen by Barnes & Noble to be featured as the best fantasy/sci-fi book of the year.
Sanderson has since continued the trend with a slew of more fantasy novels—some of them also epic fantasies, like Elantris, and others written for a younger audience, like the Alcatraz books. His other books include the Mistborn trilogy, The Stormlight Archive series, The Rithmatist (2013), as well as being the chosen author to ghost write and finish the famous Wheel of Time series when Robert Jordan unfortunately and unexpectedly passed on.
In October of 2007, Sanderson published his first novel for middle school-age children: Alcatraz Versus the Evil Librarians. Three more novels in the Alcatraz series have since followed—Alcatraz Versus the Scrivener’s Bones (2008), Alcatraz Versus the Knights of Crystallia (2009), and Alcatraz Versus the Shattered Lens (2010)—and Sanderson has said that he doesn’t plan on writing any more.
In 2013, a Complete Alcatraz volume was released and is available for purchase, as are the other Alcatraz books, online or in-store at most major bookstores.
A CLUMSY MIDDLE-SCHOOL STUDENT TURNED HERO
The center and namesake of the Alcatraz books is a young boy named Alcatraz Smedry. Alcatraz a klutzy but well-intentioned boy—a fact shown rather well and immediately when, in Alcatraz Versus the Evil Librarians, he accidentally gives the Evil Librarians—as their name suggests, a secret cult of evil librarians—precisely what they need to fulfill their plans for world domination.
And what is this mysteriously powerful thing? …A bag of sand.
In Alcatraz Versus the Scrivener’s Bone (2008), Alcatraz has to save his dad and Grandpa Smedry from the evil curators—who let you choose any book, but at the cost of your life!—of the Library of Alexandria, which (in their reality) was never burned and had been hid from the world by the Evil Librarians. On this adventure, Alcatraz and his friends are also met by a new enemy—Kilimanjaro, a Scrivener’s Bone or a sect of the Evil Librarians who replace parts of their bodies with cyborg parts).
All of the Alcatraz books feature a similar sort of wry humor, a humor which some might recall is also prevalent in books such as Lemony Snicket’s A Series of Unfortunate Events. For many younger readers this sort of humor is incredibly appealing, and therefore it is recommended that any readers who have enjoyed one of these series should read the other.
Another appealing trait of the Alcatraz books is the brisk pace that Sanderson uses, combined with a plot that is heavily action-based. Although they are of different in many ways, both the Alcatraz and Magic Tree House Series (by Mary Pope Osborne) share this aspect.
Sanderson’s language is also filled with imagery, which can help augment the reader’s imagination, as well as being more satisfying in the way that watching a movie or a TV show might be; sometimes we want something a little more visual, and, believe it or not, sometimes a novel can fulfill that need. Many children would agree that both Alcatraz and Magic Tree House are definite examples of that.
What these books also bring to children who read them is the encouragement that heroes can come from unlikely places. More particularly, that a person’s flaws—such as being klutzy—can be used as strengths; even someone with flaws can be useful and flaws don’t make someone worthless.
This is especially emphasized when, in Alcatraz Versus the Evil Librarians, Alcatraz discovers that his family has a special bloodline. As a result, each member has a specific and unique ability that helps them fight the cult of Evil Librarians. For example, Alcatraz’s ability is that what he’d thought was simple clumsiness is actually a talent for breaking things.
THE SETTING AND CHARACTERS
For the most part all of the Alcatraz books seem to take place in our world—or at least an incredibly similar world. All the same, there are of course some liberties and changes that Sanderson takes and makes, such as including villains like the cult of the Evil Librarians and the Scrivener’s Bone, a race of half-human, half-machine assassin reminiscent of The Terminator (if toned down a bit for its audience).
On his journeys, Alcatraz has help from both his family members and some of his friends from school.
In Alcatraz Versus the Evil Librarians, the reader is introduced to Grandpa Smedry, who’s special ability is to arrive late to any event; Bastille, Grandpa Smedry’s bodyguard; Sing Sing, Alcatraz’s cousin, who can trip on pretty much anything anytime; and Quentin, another of Alcatraz’s cousins, who can speak gibberish as if it were its own language.
What adventure novel would be complete without some fun gadgets? In the case of the Alcatraz books, they come in the form of Oculatory Lenses. Oculatory Lenses are pairs of glasses that an occulator—i.e. Alcatraz—can wear and each pair gives him a different new ability.
For example, a pair of the Firebringer’s Lenses shoots heat rays, a pair of Translator’s Lenses allows the wearer to read or write any language, a pair of Courier’s Lenses can send messages to and from other occulators, and a pair of Tracker’s Lenses lets the wearer see the footprints of someone who has left the room (and the longer the wearer has known the person, the brighter those footprints will be).
RECEPTION AND FINAL THOUGHTS
In 2008, DreamWorks Animation acquired film rights for Alcatraz Versus the Evil Librarians. However, Brandon Sanderson later commented in 2011 that DreamWorks hadn’t renewed the rights, and there has since been no information released of DreamWorks—or other studios—making a film adaptation of the Alcatraz books.
Nonetheless, the Alcatraz books have continued to be received incredibly well by children, parents, and (not-so-evil) librarians.
Even if the Alcatraz books are never graced with a film adaptation, there is little doubt that they will continued to be enjoyed for many years to come. Sanderson’s children’s series deserves a spot on many a bookshelf beside Lemony Snicket’s A Series of Unfortunate Events and Mary Pope Osborne’s Magic Tree House series.Book Series In Order » Characters » Alcatraz