Source: Bought (Brandon Sanderson is on my Auto-buy list)
Publication Date: May 2013
Short Synopsis (Goodreads): 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.
My Review: I LOVE Brandon Sanderson's writing. He's an awesome person as well (got to go to a signing!!) but seriously, his books are AMAZING!!!
That being said, I was a little...hesitant...to pick this one up because I was in a bit of a reading slump and feared that even the Amazing Brandon Sanderson couldn't get me out of it. Boy was I wrong!! This book kicked my reading slump to the curb! After only a few pages I was sucked in completely!
This is Brandon Sandersons first YA novel. He has an MG series (Alcatraz, that I haven't read yet, but will divert myself with until the next Rithmatist book) and of course his Fantasy novels, but this was the first official YA.
The only difference I noticed was that hints seemed to be dropped a bit more obviously. That isn't to say that I wasn't taken in. There were some very exciting twists and turns in the world and the magic system is as well thought out as anything Mr. Sanderson has done in his adult novels. Chalk warfare? Seriously? Yes, believe it, it's cool.
Side note on the magic system: I almost talked myself out of the magic system. I trust Brandon Sanderson implicitly, but I had seen pictures depicting the different types of chalk drawings and they didn't make sense to me. I thought it was going to be too hard to pick up the magic system (for some odd reason...it was the reading slump talking, that's the only excuse I can come up with). Again, after just a few pages things made perfect sense! So don't worry if you are a little intimidated by the magic system pictures. Once you get into the story, it blends together perfectly and you'll understand it, no problem.
The drawings were delightful at the chapter headings and I appreciated the instructional pages. I almost want to get some chalk and start practicing my own circles! This is a world I was a bit hesitant to step into because it was so different but soon, as with all of Brandon Sanderson's book, and any good book really, it was odd coming back into real life where I didn't have little clock crabs cutting the grass and chalk drawings with the ability to protect...and kill...as a part of everyday life.
The characters were great. Joel was such a scrappy and smart kid, I liked him a lot. He wasn't perfect, mind, and could get a bit above himself...but you know what, when people's lives are on the line, it's time to step past the boundaries and get stuff done, and Joel does that.
The other characters were fleshed out as well. Not all equally, but enough to make things interesting and I'm looking forward to getting to know them better.
I really really enjoyed what happened at the end with Joel and another student. I had plotted something similar in my head from an idea earlier in the book, but it turned into something so much better than I could have hoped! I actually finished the book (in the wee hours of the morn...living up to my blog's name!) and then the next day re-read the last few pages because I had enjoyed them so much.
There are elements of clock punk (similar to steampunk, but more gears) in the story, and it's actually not just thrown in there for show but plays an underlying key in the story. I have some questions concerning a few things that I hope will be answered as the series unfolds.
The books ties off nicely, but there is CERTAINLY room for more and many a tantalizing hint was dropped for the future. I am super excited to get back into the Rithmatist world, but the only problem is that it's not up until 2015!!! Ah well, like I said before, I have a few books still of Brandon Sanderson's to read and he has a few more coming out soon as well, so I will be amply occupied.
Side note: I saw this very well done clip a while ago and thought it blended in perfectly with the chalk idea. Chalk is the only unifying theme between the two, the magic system in Brandon Sanderson's book being slightly different, but I thought this video was clever nonetheless. Enjoy!