Joel attends Armedius Academy, a prestigious preparation school for both rich children and the elusive and exclusive Rithmatists. Rithmatists can draw Chalkings and defend the lines against the wild Chalkings in Nebrask – a life that Joel wants for himself. When Rithmatist children begin disappearing, Joel is eager to solve the case and learn more about Rithmatics in the process.
Similarly to Elantris, Sanderson takes an otherwise unremarkable and normal character and devotes a whole novel to them that a reader will love. It’s not that Joel is the underdog – he’s not even one of the metaphorical dogs to begin with! Melody is certainly an underdog, but she’s proud to admit it.
Something that doesn’t ring true for me in this novel is the ages of Joel and Melody. For being 16 year olds, both are very childish and their interactions ring false. I find it difficult to believe that even a single-minded teenage boy like Joel wouldn’t notice how pretty Melody apparently is.
Only Sanderson could bring to life a novel that talks about Chalkings – who knew that reading about drawing stick figures on a floor could be so interesting? Certainly, the opening scenes of The Rithmatist are designed to pull out Joel’s passion and invest the reader in the novel.
Keeping in mind that I have only listened to the talking book and never read the novel, the pacing of the novel was quite slow. This was particularly apparent the second time around I still have a hankering to see the Rithmatic diagrams at the beginning of each chapter, and I’m certain that my desire to reread this novel will not wain.
Sanderson, if you (or your many worthy minions) are reading this review, pretty please write the next novel in the series? That cliffhanger was unfair and unjust and I have so many questions left. I fear that the sequel may be like Kathleen Duey’s novels – a sequel that is promised, but may never occur. It’s like waiting for The Red Queen from Isobel Carmody again!