Review: The Rithmatist by Brandon Sanderson

Review: The Rithmatist by Brandon SandersonThe Rithmatist on May 14, 2013
Pages: 378
Format: eBook
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.

Bestselling author Brandon Sanderson brings his unique brand of epic storytelling to the teen audience with an engrossing tale of danger and suspense—the first of a series. With his trademark skills in world-building, Sanderson has created a magic system that is so inventive and detailed that that readers who appreciate games of strategy and tactics just may want to bring Rithmatics to life in our world.

Another awesome magic system and another YA novel win for Brandon Sanderson on this one. This book lacks the whimsical humor of his Alcatraz books and some of the more mature themes from his adult fantasy series. The Rithmatist purposely lacks a romantic element, and I really enjoyed that aspect. It was a nice contrast from some of the relationship-centered YAs I’ve been seeing lately.

If this makes some people see the book as more of a middle grade novel than what they expected, well… I think those people are wrong. There are plenty of kidnappings, conspiracies, and murders in this book but god forbid the author doesn’t include the thing teens really think about — which is always sex, right? I’m not saying this book is inappropriate for younger audiences. Quite the opposite, actually. I find the exclusion of a lead pairing refreshing, and I wish that choice was made more frequently across all genres. Yes, including adult ones! There are people out there, teens and adults, that aren’t letting their genitals lead their lives.

But enough about that.

The chalklings were suitably unnerving and the ending big bad was super creepy. The mystery wasn’t terribly hard to puzzle out, but I wouldn’t be at all surprised to find out that the answer we received at the end of this book wasn’t the entire picture. (Get it? Picture?)

At first when I finished this book, I was disappointed that there wasn’t a happier result for our main character, but the more time that has passed, the more I’ve come to realize that the happier ending would have been the easy way out. I look forward to what else is in store for us.