Quick-take: Too much side commentary.
Alcatraz Smedry is a 13 year old boy with a strange power. On his birthday, he gets an even stranger gift and promptly sets off on an adventure.
This book is one part Harry Potter, one part author commentary, and one part comedy. The only part that I enjoyed was the Harry Potter-type story. As with all Sanderson novels, it is done well and is enjoyable. If it just stayed with that, this would be a strong 4 or possibly a 5.
Unfortunately, the author kept breaking the fourth wall to talk about the book itself. It kept saying how great the story is, how I am being allowed into secret knowledge by reading it, his motivation for writing it... it just goes on. It is a fantasy novel that is laying down super thick satire to say it is actually a true story. It is also referncing ahead about what is happening and then teases the reader that they have to wait for the conclusion.
None of it is done very well. If it was actually written from the perspective of Sanderson himself, maybe I'd like it. However, the commentary is written from the fictional character Alcatraz like a fake autobiography. I don't think it works.
There is lots of humor laced throughout, but it is the "Here is something mundane, but wait! I tossed in a random item that does not belong" kind of humor that does not interest me.
I believe this is a kids novel, and I think kids like that kind of humor. The very idea of global conspiracy of scheming librarians in itself a very silly premise.
Score: 3/5. I might pick up the next to continue. The books are very short, and the series is complete. That is motivating.