A few weeks ago I wrote a review of Serial Reader (full review here) and in my review I mentioned having an unofficial and non-intentional avoidance for kindle readers.
I really don’t know why I have had this unofficial kindle reader boycott, maybe it’s because I avoid apps that want me to enter payment information or something. I think it’s a money-fueled-fear aversion. Or maybe I’m a trendsetter. ¯\_(ツ)_/¯
However since then my friend has given me his old kindle fire with the book recommendation “Alcatraz vs The Evil Librarians”
So today’s post has 3 parts:
- An update on Serial Reader (I have found more bugs since the initial review)
- A review of the book Alcatraz vs The Evil Librarians
- Initial impressions of the Kindle Fire
Update on Serial Reader:
I’ve gone through a few phones since I wrote about Serial Reader(1) and one thing I’ve noticed is that I have trouble signing into my account across devices despite the “forgot password?” feature. The issue this brings up is that when you have to “re-create an account” (I literally had 3 accounts under the same email, same password) you lose your place in your book(s) and have to wait until the serial catches up to where you were in your book UNLESS you get a premium membership (pretty reasonable at about 3$) however the issue remains: IF I CANNOT SIGN IN, I CANNOT ACCESS MY ACCOUNT PREMIUM OR FREE-MIUM. This being the case, I’ve lost my place in the two books I was reading(2) a couple of times each.
Also it had this relatively minour/inconsistent bug where it doesn’t keep my place. It most often happened when I finished a chapter and then the next time I came back to read, it started me at the end of the last chapter instead of where I was into the next chapter.
So all things considered, I can recommend Serial Reader if you’re not going to change devices anytime soon but because of this issue I do have trouble recommending it for purchase.
Alcatraz vs The Evil Librarians Book Review:
Alcatraz Vs The Evil Librarians is about the titularly named character, Alcatraz Smedry, who is really good at breaking things. Not like being clumsy or destructive, in fact Alcatraz makes a very specific distinction between “break” and “destroy”\
There was that word again. Destroy. I felt my hair bristle in annoyance. I don’t destroy things, I thought. I break them. They’re still there when I’m finished, they just don’t work right anymore.
Shortly after accidentally burning down his foster parents’ kitchen we’re introduced to the eccentric Grandpa Smedry who reveals “Yer a wizard Alca…” No I’m sorry that was uncalled for, this book isn’t a Harry Potter knock off. For one thing, this book is much better(3). These books are very self aware in the currently fashionable post-modern style which includes that Alcatraz will speak to the reader directly and frequently, often noting how this being a story about his life and him as a character. We learn that the world we know is under the rule of a network of evil librarians (though why they’re evil is never fully explained…) and that there is another world somewhere around ours (I suspect it’s an “occupies the same space but not the same time” kind of situation but again, not entirely explained in this first installment) and it’s up to the extended and extensive Smedry family to recover Alcatraz’s father’s life work: The Sands of Rashid (which was stolen by the evil librarians).
I’ve mentioned before about my general reluctance to get involved in book series that span more than 1200 pages and/or 3 books however this series started and ended so very strongly that I’m interested in at least reading the next couple of books (there’s a total of 5 books and book 2 and 3 would have to be pretty amazingly bad for me not to try and power through the last couple of books). I will be taking a break on the series for a couple of books (variety keeps me going) but stay tuned because I do plan to review more as the series goes.
Thoughts on the Kindle Fire:
It’s pretty brilliant. I am a bit reluctant to admit it, it’s like admitting to liking Taylor Swift (just her early stuff, like most songs before the “Red” album), but I’m coming out and saying that I like it a lot so far. It just has too many damn features that I love, like the blue light mode, the highlight and note system, even the fucking cover is brilliant. The only things I kinda don’t like is that it’s a little too “COME BUY EVERYTHING! We’ll make it obnoxiously easy…” however I guess that’s apart of its brilliance. In Google/Amazon we trust (in a capitalist society, who needs governments anyway? I’m sure someday when Google or Amazon, if one doesn’t buy the other first, buys the US Government, Okay Google/Alexa will be happy to answer my question).
- I’m really rough on phones. I blame my first phone, an old sprint sanyo , mostly because it was a fucking tank. I got that phone just as I graduated high school and it went through a litany of punishment, including one time where I played beer pong
with it, and it JUST. KEPT. GOING. I appreciate that phones have gotten much more complex and fragile since then but it seems to come at the cost of being so damn fragile.
- The Sleeper Awakens by H.G. Wells and House on the Borderland by William Hope Hodgson
- I read the first 2 Harry Potter books and really just couldn’t get into them. The movies were okay. I’ve seen them all once because of my kid sister otherwise I probably would have quit them too after movie 4 I think. I remember there was a lull a bit around half way through the series.
***WARNING: SPOILERS BELOW***
Thoughts on the story:
“‘…we’re here to interfere! We’re trying to overthrow Librarian domination of the Hushlands, after all.’ ‘Why not just let people live their lives, and live yours?”
This is an excellent question and one that gives me the feel that these Smedrys are acting as “world police” liberating people, who didn’t ask for it, and with out regard for the consequences of crumbling a regime that in, the cannon of this story, is fairly peacefully and the further consequences of the sequential awareness of said “evil regime”. Alcatraz frequently mentions things like “I am no hero” and “I am not a good person” which makes me wonder if this is a foreshadowing of a moral crisis he will have later in the series.
“Do you have to have a point if you’re an evil sect of Librarians?” Bastille asked with annoyance.
This begs the question: Does evil have a “point”? (read: purpose) or more generally does any morality have a “point”? This, being a quote from one of the “heroes”, goes unchallenged which does trouble me a bit because it implies that Bastille, a native of The Free Kingdoms and a child still, has never been challenged to think about WHY librarians are evil and if there is a purpose to the things they do.
“The Scrivener [the founder of the evil librarian cult]. He taught that the world is too strange a place — that it needs to be ordered, organized, and controlled. One of Biblioden’s teachings is the Fire Metaphor. He pointed out that if you let fire burn free,it destroys everything around it. If you contain it, however, it can be very useful. Well, the Librarians think that other things — Oculatory powers, technology, Smedry Talents — need to be contained too.”
This is an interesting philosophy but one that’s kinda one dimensional. The deal with fire, both in reality and as a metaphoric symbol for society, is that in small amounts it can be sustained without burning everything in sight without oversight. Once a fire/society gets beyond a certain size, it can/will grow out of control without oversight. Now to continue this metaphor, a small fire may be able to contain it self but it hasn’t enough energy to do much whereas a large uncontained fire has enough energy to do a great many things but without oversight it will consume everything in sight which would be an effective waste of said energy. It comes down to the debate between Anarchism and Statism. Anarchism can work in societies up to a certian size but beyond that size it falls into a “Lord of the Flies” brutalism just as Statism works on large societies but when applied to too small of a society it becomes a sort of fiefdom. I’m not saying absolute of either works in any size society but a blind acceptance/rejectance of an opposing ideology is generally foolish.
“Librarians named mountains after themselves — just like they named prisons after [Smedrys].”
Still not sure of the significance of this but it’s certainly interesting.
“So, my parents game me up so that they would make a spy out of me?” [Alcatraz] asked.
This is some fucked up “the ends justify the means” shit here. I am more strongly suspecting that The Free Kingdoms have some more problems than is let on in this first book.
What did you expect? That [Grandpa Smedry] would leave [Alcatraz] here all summer, in the exact place where your enemies know where to look? With people that aren’t even your family? In a place you don’t really like, and that is depressingly normal compared to the world you’ve grown to love? Doesn’t that seem a little stupid and contrived to you?
Damn…that’s got to be shots fired at Harry Potter.
Okay folks, that’s all I have for you today. I’m working on finishing the “Looking for a Friend” story arc in The Adventures of Fin & Louie. If you’re interested in catching up on back issues, they can be found on my new page: The Adventures of Fin & Louie