*sigh* Brandon Sanderson. Is it even possible for him to write a bad book? I’d love to take a glimpse inside his head, his creativity is just endless.
I love the fact that every Sanderson book you read has a different world and a different magic system, but it’s always introduced so well that it’s not confusing or hard to understand.
In this book, the magic revolves around something called Rithmatics. These are people who have the power to make chalk drawings come to life. They can draw chalklings on the ground which have specific powers, and give them instructions for what they should do. Some chalklings are straightforward lines, but some have more power depending on how much detail they have been given. Some chalklings even have the power to hurt people, like the dangerous ‘wild chalklings’. There are eight rithmatic academies in the United Isles, all training Rithmatics to go fight on the front line in Nebrask to keep the wild chalklings at bay.
But interestingly, the main character in this book is not a rithmatist, rather a teenager who dreamt all his life of becoming one but wasn’t selected by the Master at his inception as a young boy. But when Rithmatic students from the school start going missing, Joel finds himself at the centre of the race to find who is responsible for the kidnappings and put it to an end.
His unlikely sidekick is a lovely flame-haired girl called Melody, who is actually a rithmatist, albeit a very poor imitation of one. She doesn’t like Joel very much to start with, especially since he is infinitely better at drawing the rithmatic lines than she is, even if he doesn’t have the power to make his drawings actually do anything, unlike Melody. As the threat starts to move closer to home, they have to work together before it’s too late.
Apart from the incredibly detailed magic system that Sanderson developed for this book, my favourite part was the relationship between Joel and Melody and the way their friendship grew throughout the book until they were able to work like two halves of the same person. And unlike some books I’ve read, Sanderson didn’t feel the need to add any romantic tension between the two characters, they could simply get on with the tasks that needed to be done.
(Spoiler alert) I also loved the fact that Joel doesn’t get everything that he wanted. He ends the book still craving the exact same thing he desired so much at the beginning. It makes a change from most books where the ‘hero’ seems to get every wish granted to him in some way or other before the close of the book.
And it may just have been me being completely oblivious, but I had no idea how the end of the investigation was going to go until I read it. I’d made my own guesses about who was responsible, but I was way, way off. Kudos to Sanderson for being able to keep the ending such a surprise.
I was so disappointed to get to the end of this book and find out that there’s no sequel yet. I really hope there’s another book as it ended with so much potential for a follow-up and I’d love to find out what happens to Joel and Melody next!