Review: ‘Alcatraz Versus The Shattered Lens’ by Brandon Sanderson

Minor spoiler warning!

I picked up Book 4 of Brandon Sanderson‘s Alcatraz series (which his website describes as ” a humorous fantasy series for ages 9-99″) when I arrived home from work this evening. I turned the last page a little while ago. One thing I like about these books is that they’re such quick reads, I finished in an evening despite not actually reading for five hours straight. I even cooked and ate a quick dinner during the course of my read. Another thing I genuinely enjoy about reading Alcatraz Smedry’s autobiography, is how outrageously funny they are. Yes, they’re written for a Young Adult audience but I can assure you that they’re quite enjoyable to read when one is an adult.

Author’s Foreword:

I am an idiot.

You should know this already, if you’ve read the previous three volumes of my autobiography. If, by chance, you haven’t read them, then don’t worry. You’ll get the idea. After all, nothing in this book will make any kind of sense to you. You’ll be confused at the difference between the Free Kingodms and the Hushlands. You’ll wonder why I keep pretending that my glasses are magical. You’ll be baffled by all these insane characters.

(Actually, you’ll probably wonder all of those same things if you start from the beginning too. These books don’t really make a lot of sense, you see. Try living through one of them sometime. Then you’ll know what it really means to be confused.)

Anyway, as I was saying, if you haven’t read the other three books, then don’t bother. That will make this book even more confusing to yu, and that’s exactly what I want. By way of introduction, just let me say this: my name is Alcatraxz Smedry, my Talent is Breaking Things. And I’m stoopid. Really, really stoopid, So stoopid, I don’t know how to spell the word stupid.

This is my story. Or, well, part four of it. Otherwise known as “The part where everything goes wrong, and then Alcatraz has a cheese sandwich.”


I found myself laughing out loud quite often during the course of this evening and repeatedly wondered at how awesome a writer Brandon Sanderson truly is. He did something in this book that he hasn’t done in any of the previous Alcatraz books and I found it quite brilliant, to be honest. Rather than using the standard chapter headings, such as ‘Chapter 1’, ‘Chapter 2’, etc., Brandon was quite creative with his chapter numbers. Instead of the tired 1, 2, 3 bit… he used things like ‘Π‘ or . Even ‘∞ + 1′. Some of my other favorites were ‘8675309‘, ‘42‘, ‘Act V, Scene III’, ‘24601‘, ‘6.02214179×10^23‘ and ‘NCC-1701‘. Once I reached the pi chapter, which was the third chapter after ‘Chapter 2’ and ‘Chapter 6’, I had to skip ahead and check out all of the chapter headings. I got quite the chuckle out of some of them, most notably Chapter Act V, Scene III during which all of the characters hilariously quoted Shakespeare’s Hamlet. With the exception of one Librarian, who had the wrong tragedy… erm, tragically.

One other absolutely laugh out loud moment came when reading a segment in which Alcatraz was thinking about how awful  his mother really is. Only readers/fans of Robert Jordan’s, and now Brandon Sanderson’s Wheel of Time series will very greatly appreciate this little tidbit, which I will not spoil, as much as I may want to do so. “You? No!”

One thing I found different about Book 4 was the ending, which leaves a major character somewhat incapacitated. It’s rather a cliffhanger and foreshadows the events of the final book in the series which I cannot wait to read! To sum up, I loved this book. It made for quite an enjoyable evening. Brandon really lets his humor run rampant in all of the Alcatraz books, this one especially, and any one of them are quick, fun reads. If you haven’t yet read this or any of the other Alcatraz books I urge you, nay I beg you to do so immediately! Trust me, you’ll thank me for it. In anticipation of your future and most likely, undying gratitude, I say, “You’re most welcome!”