Wednesday, February 23, 2011

Alcatraz Versus the Shattered Lens

I had hoped I might disagree with the reviews for Alcatraz Versus The Shattered Lens. Unfortunately, I have to say I do believe this was the worst book in the series. While I felt Alcatraz Versus The Knights Of Crystallia was weaker than the first two books that were wonderful, it is a strong book when compared to this last installment.

On a positive note, there were some interesting parts to the book. I loved the latest Smedry, Aydee who has a talent for being bad at math. For children who struggle with math, the way her talent turns out to be helpful is rather amusing. The progression of the war in Mokia has some interesting turns. Alcatraz has a revelation about his parents that shakes his perception of good and evil, as he has understood it until now. This plot was included to carry over into the final book not yet been picked up for publication.

The positives do not balance the negatives. The author destroyed much of what made this series strong. Grandpa Smedry one of characters who carried the series is almost absent from the book. If this were a TV series, you would wonder if they were contract negotiation issues or the actor was sick. The absence leaves holes in the plot that end up with contrived plot tricks to cover his missing time. The author attempts to create growing adolescent tension between Bastille and Alcatraz, but instead just makes Bastille into a flat, dull, character. She has finally lost the energy, strength, and personality that made her so interesting in the first two books. While the author is trying to create a final plot twist for the last book with Alcatraz's parents, the premise is weak and not supported. Finally, while Alcatraz has been a funny storyteller up to this point his voice is lost in the last book. Many reviews have complained about the constant use of the word stupid. That was only a minor annoyance compared to the loss of his voice in the story. When reading the first three and then hearing the first one on CD the attraction has been Alcatraz's narration. There are many fantasy adventure stories on the market. What was appealing about this one was the narration.

As I came to the end of the story, I did have that momentary conspiracy theory wondering who wrote the final book. Either the author had a few bad months of writing, or he farmed this one out to someone with an outline. It lacks the style, voice, and structure of the previous books. This book has the feel of someone trying to write in the style of another author to finish a book. As I said, it was a moment, not a full-blown research project. I have no idea what happened after the author completed the second book. I can only say the quality has decreased dramatically to the point I do not recognize the style in the last book.

I hope Sanderson does get his voice back and finishes the series in the style his readers deserve. Alcatraz deserves better.

1 comment:

  1. That's too bad. I do hope the final installment gets written, and more importantly, gets back on track with reader expectations.