Review: The Scrivener's Bones
Tuesday, September 3, 2019

The Scrivener’s Bones (Alcatraz, #2)The Scrivener’s Bones by Brandon Sanderson
My rating: 4.5 of 5 stars

A great continuation of the adventures of Alcatraz Smedry. In this second installment, Alcatraz isn't starting from zero. He's been established as the leader (however incompetent) of the group, and the challenges and stakes are ratcheted up accordingly.

Characters & Voice:
The main character, Alcatraz Smedry, is also the narrator, but he's even more than that. The books are written from the perspective of an older Alcatraz writing his autobiography.
This is not fiction. In the Free Kingdoms--lands like Mokia and Nalhalla--it will be published openly as an autobiography. For that is what it is. My own story told--for the first time--to prove what really happened.

As such, we get the usual narrative voice of the character, and also the interjected narrative voice of the author. These interjections happen throughout the book, but most are concentrated in the short intros that proceed each new chapter. While I enjoyed the humor in these sections, I mostly found them a distraction from the story proper. *However,* I would also like to note that my daughter, with whom I'm reading the series, enjoys them immensely, and while she doesn't always understand the content (she was only six when we started this book) I feel like they pull her deeper into the story by making her imagine Alcatraz as a real (if silly) person sitting somewhere writing this book. This is one of the many aspect of this series where I think Sanderson did a marvelous job writing to his target audience. Because, let's face it, a lot of the things that annoy us adults are freaking hilarious to kids.

Language & Mechanics:
As noted in my section of Voice, the author (or pseudo-author), Alcatraz of the future, interjects non-sequiturs at the beginning of each chapter which are at times hilarious, but really drag down the pacing of the main story. This is frustrating for readers who are used to books with a continuous flow, but the mechanic seems to work well for a younger audience.
Conversely, while I think Sanderson does a great job keeping the voice and tone of the story appropriate for young readers, the topics of the non-sequitur chapter beginnings often involved concepts and comparisons that had to be explained for my daughter to grasp what he was talking about. (Note: she is probably a little below the target age-range) This made me feel like those beginning sections were actually geared more toward the older end of his audience.

This series takes place in an alternate version of our own reality, similar enough that the argument could be made that it *is* our world, we are simply ignorant of the truth of it due to Librarian intervention. As with the first book, Alcatraz starts out in the Hushlands, but he quickly leaves the comfort of this known environment and heads into the Free Kingdoms--the lands not under Librarian control.
As always, Sanderson does an amazing job of creating the world in which the story takes place, painting a rich picture full of unique and memorable details. For example, when Alcatraz enters the Library of Alexandria, the Curators there rip the tags out of his clothes because they take every scrap of writing that enters the library to make copies for the collection. This was, historically, the practice at the real Library of Alexandria (though they didn't have tags in their clothes). So Sanderson made his world both accurate and memorable by adding this fun detail.

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