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Barrington Stoke's collection of short stories are written using their own font and paper in order to encourage those with dyslexia to read. The writing is slightly better spaced out and less 'busy' than other books tend to be. Their books also tend to have some basis around a factual event, with fictional elements put in to make it a more enticing read.
Prisoner in Alcatraz is one such book. It takes the true story of an attempted escape from the island prison many years ago, where some of the inmates managed to cause chaos and confusion and almost got away. Author Theresa Breslin creates the character of Marty King, who his (of course) innocent in the first place, but who is picked on immediately on entry as being one of the men to join the escape plan.
It goes through Marty's emotions and thoughts as the plan formulates, and really this character inclusion and development is more to get some sort of a story out of it. Were it just based on the escape attempt, it would have been much shorter than the few it does have. Prisoner in Alcatraz has 84 pages,and the writing itself is very easy to take in. The sentences are short and to the point, doing away with long and descriptive passages and going straight for the facts and main occurrences.
The story was quite intriguing, and I liked the way the author tried to get a number of the characters developed as the story went on in order to keep it interesting. The other inmates are portrayed as being shadows other than a few, with only another 2 or 3 actually getting any development or attention. I found the characters involving and personable, and one particularly violent one certainly had me grimacing somewhat.
That all having been said, the book is definitely aimed at encouraging those who are unsure about reading, or perhaps younger adults or teens who want a short story to get in the mood or habit for reading. For adults looking for a really good read that is going to be fulfilling, deep and meaningful with lots of description, this is probably not really going to do much for you. However, with only 84 pages to work with, there just aren't enough pages to do all of this and keep the details of the story in. Breslin writes quite well, but the book just didn't get deep enough to be really good.
Prisoner in Alcatraz, like other Barrington Stokes books, retails for £5.99. Personally, I find it way overpriced for what it is, considering other short story series such as Quick Reads and Shades manage to set them out for much less. A decent read, but nothing special for the established reader.