YA Weekend: Bastille vs. The Evil Librarians by Brandon Sanderson and Janci Patterson
I received a review copy from the publisher. This does not affect the contents of my review and all opinions are my own.
Mogsy’s Rating: 3.5 of 5 stars
Genre: Fantasy, Middle Grade
Series: Book 6 of Alcatraz
Publisher: Starscape (September 20, 2022)
Length: 272 pages
It feels as though I have been waiting for Bastille vs. the Evil Librarians for a long time, and now that the Alcatraz versus the Evil Librarians series has finally come to a close, I have lots and lots of feels! Most are positive, I’m happy to report, but there were also some disappointments. It probably comes as no surprise that there were plenty of changes with this book, from the switch to another POV character to the first time this series was co-authored. There were also some elements I loved, but other places where my feelings were more mixed.
But before I begin my review in earnest, please be aware that from here on out there may be references to the previous books in the series, so I do want to give a possible spoilers warning. The story picks up immediately after the events of The Dark Talent, following some devastating developments which include significant setbacks for our characters. Things are looking pretty grim—so terrible, in fact, that they have caused our titular protagonist to cave into his grief and give up completely.
Not to worry though, because his friend Bastille is here to save the day! A Knight of Crystallia pledged to protect the Smedry line, she’s not about to take the loss lying down, and taking over narrating duties is just the first step. Alcatraz might have lost everything including his will to fight, but Bastille is not about to fail in her task and lose him to the darkness. While the world is falling apart around them, Bastille is determined to save Alcatraz and all of the Free Kingdoms from total destruction, and she has a big sword and a literal literary license to do it (she has a card and everything)!
First, if you’ve read up to this point in the series, please do yourself a favor and pick this one up to find out how it all ends. It took six long years for this concluding volume to finally be out in the world, but trust me, it’s well worth the wait. And let’s be honest, how could anyone read the ending of the last book and not want to continue? Not going to lie, the way things turned out in The Dark Talent made me so depressed, but the only thing that gave me a glimmer of hope was the cryptic note slipped into the back of the book promising there will be more. And thank goodness for that! With Bastille vs. the Evil Librarians came the closure I was desperately seeking, along with some happy surprises made me feel a lot less salty over the ending of the last book.
If you enjoyed the style of storytelling and the unique brand of humor found in the previous books, then you’re going to enjoy this one too. Kudos also to illustrator Hayley Lazo for all the adorable and fun drawings, which really add a lot to the whole reading experience! As for the writing though, speaking as a longtime fan of Brandon Sanderson, I could tell this wasn’t mostly written by him and that the bulk it was probably Janci Patterson, but that’s okay—this series was Sanderson’s creation, and this book still had everything that made its characters and world so fun and unique. Plus, Bastille is now at the helm, and it only makes sense that she sounds different from Alcatraz.
Like I said though, the humor is still there, and Bastille is even snarkier than Alcatraz, I love it! Similar to the previous books, every chapter begins with a witty tangential throwaway segment filled with jokes and puns, so that even though we were in Bastille’s head this time, I still felt right at home. The story also moved along at a breakneck pace, guaranteed to keep even the most distracted middle grader interested with rapt attention. The plot also featured plenty of magical action and the kind of insanity I’ve come to expect from the series, and they must have pulled out all the stops for the finale because believe it or not, things got even crazier in this one (I mean, just look at the cover, which was an actual scene from the story).
But for all that I liked about this book, I felt something was missing. For a long-awaited concluding volume, it simply didn’t feel grand enough, with so much of the plot given to Bastille talking about how annoyed she was at Alcatraz, followed by a shift to them bickering a lot. So much of it was relationship drama, punctuated occasionally by some wild and wacky over-the-top action. Sure, it’s entirely possible that I might have hyped things up for myself in this case, given the long wait time between this book and the last, but compared to some of the previous volumes, I still felt that this had a lot less substance.
That being said, all the crucial elements were there, such as answers to important questions as well as a happy ending. I am such a fan of this series and the characters, that finally getting closure was a relief! I also feel that Alcatraz vs. the Evil Librarians would be an amazing read for kids 8-14 which is the suggested age range, but adults who are young at heart and don’t mind something a little silly and quirky once in a while would probably have a blast with it as well. This has been an incredible journey, that even with its minor flaws, I felt Bastille vs. the Evil Librarians was the conclusion the readers deserved, and I closed the cover on the final page of my favorite MG series of all time feeling content and satisfied.
More on The BiblioSanctum:
Review of Alcatraz vs. The Evil Librarians (Book 1)
Review of The Scrivener’s Bones (Book 2)
Review of The Knights of Crystallia (Book 3)
Review of The Shattered Lens (Book 4)
Review of The Dark Talent (Book 5)