The Complete Alcatraz collects the whole series of Brandon Sanderson young adult novels including Alcatraz Versus the Evil Librarians, Alcatraz Versus the Scrivener's Bones, Alcatraz Versus the Knights of Crystallia and Alcatraz Versus the Shattered Lens.
These novels follow the adventures of the 13 year old boy Alcatraz Smedry and his discovery of who he really is along with the truth behind the false facade that is the world we know.
The series is narrated in the first person by the protagonist and self professed unreliable narrator who not only discusses the parts of this tale but also speaks directly to the reader. This is the highlight of the novel, the smart and savvy Alcatraz manages to entertain from the word go with a self-depreciating humour and a style all his own. Told in the past tense, he even goes so far as to poke holes in his own story and offers a commentary on his life and the lessons he's learned since - he even pokes fun at authors and their foibles. To top it all he admits that he lies, paints himself as "not a nice person" and throws red herrings in here and there. This is not only hugely refreshing but also quite unique, it works brilliantly as in a YA setting.
Sanderson's prose really shines and not a single time does he dumb things down for the younger audience, it's simply beautifully written and so comfortable and engaging its pretty much impossible to resist. This includes a light-hearted, off-the-wall humour that is very similar to the talented Jasper Fforde, it's got that same disarming craziness that is so entertaining and often just plain daft. But it's a daftness that you laugh along with rather than shake your head at and this permeats much of the plot.
While on the subject of the plot, while each book is it's own self-contained story there is also a series long arc stretching through each of the volumes which rewards the reader. Each story is also pretty fast paced too and so well thought out, before you know it you've read the whole thing.
Sanderson proves himself to be an even better writer than I imagined, not only can he create such vibrant characters but he does so with a fresh and irresistible style, I'd recommend this to adults both young and old alike.
Written on Wednesday 7th November 2012 by Antony.
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