Title: The Rithmatist
Author: Brandon Sanderson
Who’s it for? Teens, although actually I can’t see why the 9-12s wouldn’t enjoy it too.
What’s it about? Joel is fascinated by the art of Rithmatics – with its lines of power and ability to bring chalk drawings to life – but only a few have the gift and he is not one of them. When Rithmatic students from Joel’s school start disappearing, he is keen to investigate.
Since he’s not a Rithmatist, Joel seems to be safe – but others are dying. Can he find the killer before the killer realizes just what a threat Joel really is?
(Blurb taken from the book)
What’s good about it? The Rithmatic system is utterly fascinating. I had my doubts at first, mostly because we’re being asked to fear 2D drawings. Yes. You read that right. Drawings (known as ‘chalklings’). Anyone who’s read any of my reviews probably knows I have a thing for detailed world building – and this doesn’t disappoint. There’s a rich world that’s been created here and it leaves you with the feeling that they’ve only scratched the surface. But I loved the detail in the description of the Rithmatic system. I really liked the drawings with explanations about the various defensive forms, without it I think I would’ve found the Rithmatic dueling system a lot harder to follow.
I was surprised by how tense certain scenes were when if you look at them it’s actually just two people drawing things on the ground.
I quite liked Joel; his boundless enthusiasm for Rithmatics, despite not being a Rithmatist himself, was endearing. I loved that he studied hard to be as good as he was – there was natural ability there, but he did spend plenty of time studying outside of lessons.
The book’s design is gorgeous.
What’s bad about it? Melody is really, really irritating. I begrudgingly liked her by the end, but to begin with she really annoyed me.
It takes a lot of concentration on the Rithmatic principles. Seriously, it’s easy to get confused.
The verdict? This is a great start to a series with a beautifully conceived magic system. The downside of the Rithmatic system is that it can get seriously confusing – especially during some of the duels between Rithmatists. That said – for a magic system which is just chalk drawings on the floor, there was some serious tension – I’ve never been more afraid of 2D drawings!
The characters are interesting and it’s bittersweet following Joel’s journey as he tries to solve the mystery behind the disappearance of Rithmatists. Melody, however, only stops being annoying in the latter part of the story – it does make you dread her appearances somewhat.
The central mystery definitely keeps you guessing and I didn’t even come close to predicting the final reveal. There’s plenty of set-up too for future books in the series, I didn’t like that a certain event didn’t happen for Joel, but then again I can see that coming in to play in a big way later on. So I’m reserving judgement.
In all it’s a brilliant, exciting read and I’ll definitely look forward to more books in the series!