Joel can recount any number of old Rithmatic duels. He can tell you about the Rithmatic Lines and Chalklings, about how these simple chalk drawings can destroy defenses and come to life. He can name you the Rithmatic Defenses, their advantages and disadvantages, and even more, draw them nearly perfectly --- which is already more than most other Rithmatic students at Armedius Academy.
"THE RITHMATIST has easily become one of my all-time favorite young adult fantasy books and is a wonderful addition to anyone’s summer reading list."
Unfortunately though, Joel is no Rithmatist. Born to Armedius Academy’s late chalk-maker, Joel can only sneak into Rithmatic classes between his delivery shifts. Craving to be part of the world of Rithmatists, he finally gets a chance to learn more when he is assigned to be the assistant to Professor Fitch. Joined by the hyper, seemingly crazy, Melody who can’t even trace a Rithmatic Defense circle, Joel soon finds that his summer position may not be as exciting, or as rewarding, as he had thought. When a string of kidnappings and the escape of man-eating Wild Chalklings begin to throw the school, and the rest of the United Isles, into commotion, Joel finds himself a target of the attacks and maybe even, a key to discovering what is really happening.
THE RITHMATIST has easily become one of my all-time favorite young adult fantasy books and is a wonderful addition to anyone’s summer reading list. Sanderson creates a beautiful and intricate world, filled not only with magic, but with groups of people who must learn to live among each other. There exists not only a war with magic, but a war among people who don’t understand one another. The people, the culture and even the history are mindfully considered and transform the world into more than just a setting --- it becomes a place as much as one would consider New York or Beijing a place.
THE RITHMATIST addresses the characters as much as it does magic. In the end, I couldn’t help but find myself attached to the characters and their struggles to find confidence and worth in themselves. As much as it is a story about magic, monsters, and chalk lines, it is a story about growing up and learning that everyone has something they can do, something they can give to others.
Reviewed by Ashley Tran on June 17, 2013