The day has finally come. The day that many have been waiting for, for far longer than is fair (Thanks, Scholastic! Clearly the best time to drop a series is at the cliffhanger before the last book! Clearly, they’ve been taken over by Librarians, in order to keep this story under wraps). Alcatraz 5 is upon us, and Brandon’s been promising that we’ll finally see the long foretold altar scene.
This is going to be a review of both the Starscape re-releases of the first four Alcatraz books, as well as a review of the fifth book in the series, though it will fail spectacularly on the latter point.
The new editions are nice. The covers are all much more cohesive, and not nearly as random as the Scholastic editions. It’s a little disappointing to lose the jacket art on the cover, but I think what we got instead is a reasonable trade, aside from the inconsistent embossing on book two, as seen here:
But what really shines in these new editions are Hayley Lazo’s wonderful illustrations. From small glimpses into what’s happening in the stories to Bastille illustrating Alcatraz’s wild exaggerations and then snarking about them, they’re a delightful addition to an already wonderful story. I’ve read the first four books several times over the years, and these illustrations made me excited to read them again. And if you think I’m exaggerating, here are Isaac’s and Brandon’s thoughts on the upgrade.
If you’ve been holding out on reading these, now’s a great time. Sure, they may be “kids books”, and you may be here for “adult fantasy”. These are a fun, light read. Yes, they’re on the more whimsical side, but they’re a wonderful side project, and I consider them to be the best Kids/YA series that Brandon has ever written.
The Dark Talent
Still with me? Read the first four books? (If not, shame on you. Go out, buy yourself the rest of the series [two copies of The Scrivener’s Bones and an Austen novel, as you’ll need them for the arts and crafts section of the program], and come back and finish reading this review once you’ve gotten that far, or else Alcatraz will make fun of you.)
Alcatraz outshines both The Rithmatist and The Reckoners series in the last book of his autobiography. Waiting for nearly six years for this book was too long by far (thanks, Librarians!), but this book was worth the wait. The pacing is on point, and the action is bigger and better than ever. In this book, we finally get answers to questions that were posed earlier in the series (and maybe a few that haven’t), such as:
Is the Breaking talent really the dark talent?
How can Alcatraz wear a green jacket if he’s a fish?
How do I reset my router if I’m stealing Wi-Fi from my neighbors?
Who Killed Asmodeon?
Is The Reckoners series tied to the Cosmere?
If Alcatraz were to try really hard, could he break his way onto Scadrial?
If Alcatraz is an unreliable narrator, can we trust him to be telling the truth about being on Earth, and not a cosmere planet?
HOW DID ALCATRAZ END UP ON THAT ALTAR OF ENCYCLOPEDIAS?!? YOU’VE BEEN TEASING US FOR YEARS, AND IT’S NOT VERY NICE!
Alcatraz warned you about that last one. By his own word, Alcatraz is:
Not a good person
I, in general, wouldn’t trust a word that’s come out of his mouth since the beginning of the series. Maybe you’re more trusting than I am, though. Maybe you’ll finally get to see the altar scene, and maybe you’ll finally realize that this is an incredibly unlikely series of events to happen to a fish.
Yes, this is a terrible review. I did warn you, after all. I wish I could tell you that it’s everything you’ve ever imagined, and that they all live happily ever after. But I wouldn’t want to spoil any of the fun. If you’ve read this far into the series (and amazingly, stomached this much of this crapaflapnasty review), go out and pick this one up. You’ll be surprised that Brandon can still shock you, even in a children’s book.