Reviews for Rithmatist

Booklist Reviews 2013 May #2
Joel longs to be a Rithmatist with the magical power to bring two-dimensional objects, called Chalklings, to life. But he is 16, and Rithmatists are chosen at age 8. Surely he has missed his chance, or has he? When Rithmatists-in-training at the prestigious Armedius Academy begin to go missing, Joel--a scholarship student there--determines to find out what has happened to them. Could it possibly have something to do with the Wild Chalklings of the Nebrask territory? Could his success or failure determine the fate of the American Isles? And, for that matter, could he become a Rithmatist, after all? So many questions and so few answers in this spoiler-free review. Suffice it to say that with an intriguing premise and captivating characters in Joel, his friend Melody, and their teacher Professor Fitch, Sanderson's first YA novel is a fast-paced mash-up of fantasy and adventure that will grab readers' attention at the first page and hold it until the inconclusive end, which promises a sequel. An auspicious YA debut that will leave readers hungry for further adventures of the aspiring Rithmatist and his friends. Copyright 2012 Booklist Reviews.

Horn Book Guide Reviews 2014 Spring
In this alternate U.S. (the United Isles), Rithmatists fight two-dimensional attackers by drawing chalk lines (helpfully diagrammed throughout the novel). Joel, a chalkmaker, was not selected as a Rithmatist, but as Rithmatic students go missing, his prodigious understanding equips him to help uncover and stop a mysterious threat. Both fantasy and adventure, this is a refreshing take on the magical-school trope.

Kirkus Reviews 2013 May #1
The inhumanly prolific author of the Mistborn trilogy conjures similarly baroque magic for a lapidary series opener aimed at a somewhat younger audience. Set on an alternate, steampunk Earth among the many squabbling United Isles of America, the tale pits Joel, teenage son of a poor chalkmaker, and allies against mysterious baddies who are snatching students of exclusive Armedius Academy. Among other subjects, the Academy teaches Rithmatics--a geometry-based system of offensive and defensive shapes chalked on flat surfaces and then animated by those endowed with a special magical ability in a ceremony as children. Though he himself cannot bring his figures to life like a true Duster, years of obsessive study have made Joel a brilliant theorist and designer. His skills plunge him into the middle of the kidnapping investigation and ultimately lead to hints of a larger plot to release floods of deadly wild "chalklings" against humanity. Stay tuned. Between (and occasionally within) every chapter, labeled diagrams and smaller drawings lay out an elaborate but generally logical set of rules and behaviors for Rithmatical attack and defense. Fantasy readers should devour this well-crafted mix of action and setup, enriched by a thoroughly detailed cultural and historical background and capped by a distinctly unsettling twist. (Fantasy. 10-13) Copyright Kirkus 2013 Kirkus/BPI Communications.All rights reserved.

Publishers Weekly Reviews 2013 March #4

Bestselling author Sanderson's first YA novel is a delightful fantasy set in an alternate early 20th-century America made up of 60 loosely federated islands protected by Rithmatists, who use powerful chalk-drawing magic to hold at bay the voracious wild chalklings. These mysterious, two-dimensional creatures from the dangerous island of Nebrask would wipe out the nation if they ever broke loose. Sixteen-year-old Joel attends Armedius Academy, a noted school for Rithmatists, as a general student; he has studied the intricate, magical chalk patterns his whole life, but missed his chance to become a Rithmatist. As his more talented schoolmates begin to disappear, apparently killed or kidnapped by wild chalklings, Joel; his new friend Melody, an incompetent young Rithmatist; and Fitch, their recently disgraced professor, become involved in a desperate attempt to avoid more bloodshed and save their schoolmates. Featuring ingenious magic (complete with profuse chalk drawing-style diagrams and illustrations from McSweeney), feisty characters, and a complex plot likely to unwind over several volumes, this high-spirited, exciting story will appeal to readers of all ages. Ages 12-up. Author's agent: Eddie Schneider, JABberwocky Literary Agency. (May)

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School Library Journal Reviews 2013 July

Gr 6-10--The idea that evil chalk drawings pose a threat to humanity quite frankly sounds silly. Add in the none-too-subtle Harry Potter parallels and you have the makings of literary mediocrity. And yet Sanderson has crafted an action-packed mystery that will keep readers hooked, especially toward the end. Joel is an underachieving, charity-case student at the elite Ardemius Academy where his mother is a cleaning lady and his late father made chalk for Rithmatists. In the hands of a Rithmatist, chalk is a weapon keeping North America safe from wild "chalklings," two-dimensional beasts of unknown origins. Only one in 1000 people possess Rithmatic abilities. Much to Joel's chagrin, he is not one of them. But when Rithmatic students begin disappearing, Joel gets a chance to help in the investigation, and maybe get another shot at becoming one of the elite. Part fantasy, part alternate history, part steampunk, this story succeeds nicely despite some flaws (logical inconsistencies and an annoying female lead foremost among them). An exciting ending and skillful setup for a sequel will have readers hungry for the next volume.--Anthony C. Doyle, Livingston High School Library, CA

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VOYA Reviews 2013 August
In the United Isles of America, there is a school steeped in tradition with magical professors and Joel, a sixteen-year-old boy who lives at the school. At the exclusive Armedius Academy, the Master selects special students to be taught Rithmatics, a geometry-based system of offensive and defensive shapes chalked on flat surfaces and then brought to life by those endowed with a magical ability. Secrets surround these students, and Joel, the son of a poor chalk-maker, wants more than anything to be a Rithmatist. He gets a chance to realize his dream when he is plunged into the middle of the kidnapping investigation that ultimately leads to hints of a larger plot to release floods of deadly wild "chalklings" against humanity The characters are all feisty. The premise of a soldier being a person with artistic talent who can do magic is fascinating. The labeled diagrams and smaller drawings scattered throughout the text help explain an elaborate but generally logical set of rules and behaviors that make up the Rithmatical battle plans and further add to the reader's immersion into the story. This imaginative world will catch the attention of young readers, perhaps especially male readers, who are not quite ready for adult science fiction and fantasy.--Susan Allen 4Q 4P M J Copyright 2011 Voya Reviews.