Book Review : The Rithmatist by Brandon Sanderson
More than anything, Joel wants to be a Rithmatist. Chosen by the Master in a mysterious inception ceremony, Rithmatists have the power to infuse life into two-dimensional figures known as Chalklings. Rithmatists are humanity’s only defense against the Wild Chalklings — merciless creatures that leave mangled corpses in their wake. Having nearly overrun the territory of Nebrask, the Wild Chalklings now threaten all of the American Isles.
As the son of a lowly chalkmaker at Armedius Academy, Joel can only watch as Rithmatist students study the magical art that he would do anything to practice. Then students start disappearing — kidnapped from their rooms at night, leaving trails of blood. Assigned to help the professor who is investigating the crimes, Joel and his friend Melody find themselves on the trail of an unexpected discovery — one that will change Rithmatics — and their world — forever.
(Courtesy of goodreads.com)
Adult Point of View
I found Sanderson’s world to be intricate, logical and fantastical in The Rithmatist. This is the first Sanderson book that I have read and I loved it, and will definitely be looking forward to more in this series as well as trying out his other novels.
The Rithmatist is an alternate America with city-state islands, chalklings that can kill a man and political intrigue. The United Isles are well developed in Sanderson’s mind, and not over explained in the writing of the novel which I appreciated. I prefer to find out about the world through inference rather than long boring explanations. Another fun twist was the use of steampunk devices in this world.
I enjoyed the two main characters. Joel is a nerd. Joel is passionate about the studies of the rithmatists, to the point of alienating others and isolating himself unwittingly. He is also a decent human being and wants to do the right thing. At one point he makes a cruel remark to Melody and is corrected by Professor Fitch. To Joel’s credit he accepts the criticism, and works at changing how he interacts with Melody. Joel also learns how to adapt using his strengths to overcome his weaknesses. Melody’s character is annoying, but not to the point of intolerable just amusing. I could easily see how she felt disgruntled with the expectations placed on her, the self-criticism and reasons she ostracized herself from her classmates. It is remarkable that these two actually became friends. Nalizar is a secondary character in my mind, though he is the nemesis of Professor Fitch and Joel. As the outside observer I never trusted Nalizar and believed Joel was right in his distrust of this “hero” of Nebrask.
As with any novel set at a boarding school there will be some similarities to the famous Harry Potter, but The Rithmatist does not follow the same story line or develop characters that are mere shades of J.K. Rowling’s.
I highly recommend this book for teens (and adults), it makes for a great summer read. The one problem is that the rest of the series has not yet been written and you will want to read the next one immediately
– the Mother
Teen Point of View
I really enjoyed the uniqueness of the plot. Ive never read a book where there are rampant chalklings attacking humans. I did hate Joel’s name and Melody’s. Melody was really annoying, but I did like her talent for drawing chalklings. I thoroughly enjoyed the plot and the new ideas, but hated most of the characters.
– the Teen