I was very excited to borrow an ARC of The Rithmatist by Brandon Sanderson from Krys at Bibliopunkk. I am a freaking huge Brandon Sanderson fan, so the opportunity to read his first YA novel was not one to pass up ;-). Like all Sanderson novels, The Rithmatist has a new and intriguing magic system, plot twists on top of plot twists, and characters you can’t help but adore. It also takes place in an alternate history where North America is actually an archipelago and so the United States is less united and more a bunch of island states that grudgingly cooperate! The Rithmatist is definitely a YA novel, though, with a magic school and teenage protagonists. While there isn’t a series indicator on the Goodreads page yet, I’m very much hoping Sanderson decides to write a sequel, because I can’t wait to go back to the world of chalk battles and mysteries. Though I have to admit that I’m still not sure which Rithmatist the title is referring to specifically….
I originally read an ARC borrowed from my friend. However, Tor also sent me a final copy for review, thank you!!! The Rithmatist will be published May 14th 2013, go get your copies tomorrow!
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Title: The Rithmatist
Author: Brandon Sanderson
Length: 384 pages
Genre-ish: Fantasy YA
Rating: ★★★★★ (4.5) - amazing magic and ending, beginning a little simple
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.– Goodreads
- First thing is first: chalk magic :D. Certain people get the power to instill their chalk drawings with physical abilities like making an invisible wall above a line of chalk or attacking said walls. The best though are the little doodles that come to life to defend you or attack your opponent :D. There are dragons!!
- I loved all of the characters for their own unique quirks. Melody is both girly with her unicorn drawings, insecure in her abilities and freaking hilarious in her declarations of “Everything is a tragedy!” Joel is a character many younger readers will relate to in that he is talented and bright when it comes to the subject he loves (Rithmatics) but is struggling in the rest of his classes because he just isn’t interested. Finally, Professor Fitch is a wonderful portrayal of the absent-minded professor, though he has his own strength when it comes to believing in all of his students, no matter their abilities. Seriously, I just want to hug all of these characters!
- Brandon Sanderson always has awesome plot twists, and so I expected no less. The Rithmatist surprised me, however, with plot twists on top of plot twists with it all making sense in the end. I loved it! You will not be able to guess how this one ends, even when you only have 20 pages left ;-).
- The alternate history was not emphasized much, but it was quite interesting as a backdrop to the magic and mystery. I am excited to learn more about how their world is different but similar to ours.
- The ARC of the The Rithmatist that I read had delightful drawings that I’m sure with persist to the final copy. There are drawings at the beginning of every chapter to teach you about Rithmatic lines and strategies and then there are little doodles throughout the chapters of the chalkings (chalk creatures) that are being drawn in the accompanying text. They are awesome :D.
- While the end of The Rithmatist left me content with what we had learned, it also is already building-up for an amazing sequel. I really hope that the sequel doesn’t take too long *puppy dog eyes*.
- The ARC I originally read didn’t have a map, however the final copy does and it’s preeeeetty! It also helps a ton with understanding the alternative geography ;-).
- The first 2/3 of The Rithmatist felt closer to MG that YA honestly. There was a strange dissonance in my head of Sanderson’s style that I’m used to in his adult books and the feel of a YA on the young side of the spectrum.
- Hopefully this will be fixed in the final version, but there were a fair number of sentences that were quite repetitive, telling me information I had already learned a half page ago.
- There is a church in The Rithmatist that apparently split from Christianity when Rithmatics was discovered but still is kind of Christian I think. There was some weirdness when it came to referring to the other world religions…. It just didn’t seem to be handled well.
I am thrilled that Sanderson has decided to break into the YA genre and I think Harry Potter fans will love The Rithmatist. It has the same magic school with a mystery feel to it and it was just so much fun. The magic system seems simple at first, but we soon start to suspect there is much more potential than has been discovered so far. Sanderson has laid the ground work for an excellent series with The Rithmatist and I really hope he decides to build upon it soon, I must know all the answers!
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