The Rithmatist by Brandon Sanderson
Illustrations by: Ben McSweeney
Publisher: Tor Teen
Release Date: May 2013
I listened to the audio book which was read by Michael Kramer
Synopsis: More than anything, Joel wants to be a Rithmatist. Rithmatists have the power to infuse life into two-dimensional figures known as Chalklings. Rithmatists are humanity’s only defense against the Wild Chalklings. Having nearly overrun the territory of Nebrask, the Wild Chalklings now threaten all of the American Isles.
As the son of a lowly chalkmaker at Armedius Academy, Joel can only watch as Rithmatist students learn the magical art that he would do anything to practice. Then students start disappearing—kidnapped from their rooms at night, leaving trails of blood. Assigned to help the professor who is investigating the crimes, Joel and his friend Melody find themselves on the trail of an unexpected discovery—one that will change Rithmatics—and their world—forever.
Comments: I’ll be honest I pushed this one off for a really really really really long time. Back in 2013 when it first came out, there were a multitude of steam punk novels that were release and many of them weren’t to my liking, thus burning me out on steam punk. So I decided to skip this one. And just never got to it. What a HUGE MISTAKE. I love this book. I didn’t read this book. I listened to it. I’ll also say: I HATE audio books with a passion. They take up too much of my time. An audio book can take up to 7 hours or more, while I can read the book in 3 hours, give or take an hour. Two, the way some voice actors read the books, is not the way I would read. Most times, I feel they give inflections and emphasis on the wrong parts of words and sentences (correct for them but not for me). But I listened to this one on a whim at work while I was doing something boring and monotonous and had to go home and finish it. I listened to it while I played my MMO… and drives to and from work. I could have read the book, but wanted to listen to it. I finished the book in two days. Michael Kramer is a great reader.
And the book is AMAZING. I greatly enjoyed it. Some folks may be overwhelmed with the world of rithmatists, but I loved it. I don’t understand those folks. What were they expecting or wanting? Less of the world? It doesn’t make sense to me. Because that world is built and influenced by rithmatists. Oh wells, <I> enjoyed the book. I liked how our hero had wants and needs and didn’t get many of them at the end. I liked how the book was steam punk but did not overwhelm us with unnecessary steam punk things to be like – See! I’m steam punk! This is steam punk! See! – which can be annoying and trying too hard. I liked Joel as a main character. I greatly enjoyed the heroically cowardly Professor Finch. Though my expectations of Professor N.’s personality and motives were spot on, I, however, was pleasantly surprised to find out there was more to him at the end. The mystery, I think, would be nice to most readers, though I figured out who did it halfway through as I am always analytical about that kind of thing.
The one thing I did miss out on were the illustrations by Ben McSweeney. It was also hard to imagine the rithmatic drawings from audio, but I created my own images – some way off from McSweeney’s drawings but other close to resemblance. Though McSweeney’s drawings is only his interpretations (or Sanderson’s), I think once it falls into readers hands, it’s what readers make of them. So I wasn’t too concerned with thinking about the “right” drawings. I did go look for the book afterward and thought the drawings were a nice touch to the book.
Before this gets too long, I just greatly enjoyed this book and I think everyone should give it a try.
The crappy thing (and I don’t know if I should share this): the sequel isn’t out for another 2 years. Boo!
(Covers are hyper-linked to their Goodreads’ page.)
Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone by J.K. Rowling
Why the Recommendation: Before you think: Quit comparing everything to Harry Potter. Or Everything is a Harry Potter rip. I don’t like that frame of thought… essentially every story boiled down are the same. Both are great reads. Magic schools. Magic. Great fantastical worlds. Students at magic school.
Why the recommendation: The two are vastly different in world building and theme, but what ties them together are the two main characters. Both of which are seemingly powerless in worlds where they are surrounded by folks who can do magic and the extraordinary.
The Golden Compass by Philip Pullman
Why the recommendation: Both books have incredible fantasy worlds with main characters who aren’t as powerful or marked as chosen ones (yet or early on in the series). The main characters of both books are very resourceful and uses their intellect to solve many of the issues they faced with in the books.