Sunday, May 12, 2013

Book Review: Alcatraz Versus the Shattered Lens by Brandon Sanderson (Alcatraz Smedry #4)

Stars: 4 out of 5
Pros: Action, humor, characters
Cons: Obviously set up for the never appearing final book
The Bottom Line:
Story continues
As delightful as others
Wish for one more book

Alcatraz and One Last Adventure – Unfortunately

How can you not love a book that starts off with exploding teddy bears?  Yes, that was pretty much when I knew I’d be raving about Alcatraz Versus the Shattered Lens, the last of the books in this middle grade series by Brandon Sanderson.

It’s been a few months since we last checked in on Alcatraz, and he’s been spending his time learning about his family and culture.  Heck, when the book first opens, he is learning about those dangerous weapons – exploding teddy bears.  And trust me, they don’t have the properties you’d expect.

But soon he learns that the librarians have besieged the island nation of Mokia, where some of his family lives.  Worse yet, the Knights of Crystallia are refusing to do anything about it since no one important is there.  So Alcatraz sets off to go himself and make the knights follow.  Will his plan work?  Can Mokia be saved?

Confused?  Well, what did you expect by jumping in at book four?  While Alcatraz, our narrator for this adventure, would berate you, I’m just going to let you fend for yourself.  Really, go back and read those early books.  Not only will this all make sense, but you’ll have a blast doing it.

And this book continues the fun.  If nothing else, the chapter numbers are a riot as he skips the boring parts of the story and then starts making up chapter numbers at random.  Each chapter still starts with a rambling on a subject mostly related to the action at hand or storytelling in general.  They are so much fun.  I was laughing the entire way through, as always.

The story?  It almost starts to drag at one point, but then things pick up quickly and it never truly lets go.  Trust me, once you get started, you won’t want to put this book down at all.

Alcatraz, despite his protests in the narration, has grown into quite a capable hero, and that continues here.  The rest of the cast develops as well.

So what’s my problem with the book?  The series was obviously designed to be five books long.  In fact, during book three, Alcatraz made several references to it being the middle point of the series.  And the conclusion of this one gives us some revelations that really shake things up.  I’d call it a cliffhanger that leaves you anxious for the final book…if the final book were coming soon.  Instead, it’s been several years since this book came out, and nothing new has appeared.  I’m not blaming the author for this, although I can’t give the book a full five stars with so much left unresolved.

Still, it’s a minor complaint.  I don’t regret any of the time I’ve spent with Alcatraz over the course of the four books, and any fan will want to find out what happens in Alcatraz Versus the Shattered Lens.

Just beware the exploding teddy bears.

Catch up with Alcatraz's earlier adventures with the Alcatraz Smedry series in order.

This book is my entry in this week's Marvelous Middle Grade Monday.  Come check out the rest of the entries.


  1. I have got to get this series read. Must say I am glad I can read one after the other. Thanks for highlighting it and reminding me it has been on my to read list for waaaaay to long.

    1. It was on my list for a while, too. And I'm so glad I started reading it because it's been a blast.