Rejoice fleshlings, for today I bring you tidings of great joy – the good-book drought has broken! Today’s offering from Brandon Sanderson, The Rithmatist, has brought me back to the lush, green delta of compulsive reading.
The Rithmatist follows the fates of Joel, son of a chalk-maker and all round ordinary sort of guy, who is completing his schooling at an institution dedicated partly to the teaching of Rithmatics. Rithmatists have a special ability to bring chalk drawings to life, an ability which comes in useful in Sanderson’s particular alternate universe given that wild chalklings (two-dimensional creatures made of chalk) can eat people…skin first in most cases. Joel desperately wants to be a Rithmatist, but must content himself with studying the theory – until Rithmatic students on Joel’s campus start disappearing and he becomes much more involved in the fates and fortunes of the Rithmatic community than he could ever have hoped. Thus begins a wholly original tale that has it all – murder, mayhem, mystery, monsters, mystical doodling and…much else besides, not necessarily starting with M.
Read it if:
* you are unable to walk past an author with a rhyming first and last name
* you can stand the sound of chalk scraping on a blackboard
* you believe that the fantasy/gearpunk/murder-kidnapping mystery/coming-of-age sub-genre is woefully under-represented in modern YA literature
* you like your alternate universes original, solid and drawn (pardon the pun) from an interesting new premise – I mean chalk monsters! Way more interesting than your run-of-the-mill shuffling horde
* you fervently believe YA fiction is far better off without (a) a broody looking long-haired girl on the cover and (b) crappy, forced love triangles between aforementioned broody-looking girl, attractive clean-cut young man number one and attractive rebel without a cause young man number two
I am, quite frankly, astounded that I have not come across Mr. Sanderson’s work before, but I will definitely seeking out more of his stuff in the future. One of the stand-out bits of The Rithmatist is the confident world-building that Sanderson has accomplished. He has managed to pull off a story set in a completely original and believable alternate-Earth, without getting bogged down in describing the ways and workings of the whole deal. This in turn allows his characters to drive the narrative – another strength of the work.
If you’re looking for something completely different, with engaging characters and some really novel concepts, you could do a lot worse than this book. And if the cover above doesn’t take your fancy, it’s also been released in the cover below!
Ahhh, it’s good to be back in the world of enthusiastic reading again. Mr Sanderson, I thank you!
Until next time,