My rating: 5 of 5 stars
“More than anything, Joel wants to be a Rithmatist. Rithmatists have the power to infuse life into two-dimensional figures known as Chalklings. Rithmatists are humanity’s only defense against the Wild Chalklings. 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 learn 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
Wow. Oh, wow. This book was sooo good. I loved every part of it–except for the “to-be-continued” ending. Can we get a release date for The Aztlanian please?
I devoured this book. It has been a long while since I’ve read a book that fast, and it felt good. I loved the entire plot, the amazing world-building, the fantastic characters….I could go on and on. This book is definitely worthy of its five star rating.
The plot was thrilling. As an artist, the idea of chalk drawings coming to life was very intriguing, and it was exciting to see how Sanderson spun out the mystery. He did an excellent job of weaving in unexpected twists and turns to keep the mystery going until the very end. My only complaint would be that the mystery was wrapped up very quickly in the end, leaving me wondering if that really was the solution, or if there was something more in store. And it ended with “To be continued,” and some unresolved loose ends. Not cool–how am I supposed to survive until the sequel comes out?
The world-building was phenomenal. It was completely unlike any other setting I’ve ever read. It was based on the premise of “what if America was actually an archipelago of islands?” It also had some other twists in history, but I’ll let you discover them for yourself. Part alternate history, part fantasy, it had a familiar feel to it while still being original. It even had touches of steampunk–er, springpunk? And the magic of the Rithmatists? It was awesome. I loved how it was based on logical principles and geometric properties. I can’t wait to read more about it in the next book. One note: the Monarchical Church in the book seems Christian in nature at first, and is classified with other Christian denominations. However, from the little tidbits that were in the book, it seems more of a religion glorifying science, along with some ritualistic aspects that could become dark very quickly. I would be wary letting younger children read this book on their own–if they do, at least discuss with them the religious views the characters hold to, and how that differs from Christianity to avoid confusion and misunderstanding.
The characters were great. Quite well-developed and life-like. My personal favorite was Melody–I loved her spunky, melodramatic personality, and all the hilarious comments she added. When I first started the book, it was a little hard to figure out whose POV it was from, but it became clearer within the first few pages. By the way, I kept wanting to call Joel “Joe” instead. Not sure why–I just thought it fit him better.
Wrap-up: This was a really fun, exciting read. It’s a blend of magical realism, alternate reality, and steampunk. I highly recommend it. Just a warning though: the explanation behind the origin of Rithmatist powers was hinted at, and it points to a rather dark theory. Some of the religious aspects, a fight scene toward the end, and the actual villain were very creepy and disturbing. Not for the weak of stomach.
Rating: 5 stars
Recommended: 14 and up.
Content guide (may contain minor spoilers):
Language: 1/10 (“dusts,”and “dusting,” were common ejaculations.)
Sexual Content: 1/10 (mentions of dress showing quite a bit of leg, a girl being pretty, etc)
Violence: 7/10 (most of the attacks are off page, though the end fight scene is very creepy. the wild chalklings eat off the skin and eyes of victims. one “historical” account of a chalkling attack is pretty disturbing.)
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