rithmatistHere’s another book I chose almost solely based on its immediate availability on OverDrive. I’d just finished listening to 10% Happier (and was somewhere around half-through The Stand), and I was in the middle of a massive scanning project at work, which required some sort of audio entertainment since scanning is so monotonous. The Rithmatist‘s blurb looked interesting enough and Goodreads thought I’d like it, so I downloaded it, not really knowing what I was getting myself into – especially since it’s YA.

And I really enjoyed it!

The Rithmatist is about a 16-year-old kid named Joel who goes to an exclusive school because his mom works there and his dad did before he died. Joel’s grades are by no means spectacular. He’s obsessed with rithmatics, a type of magic involving chalk drawings, though he’s not a rithmatist. Rithmatists are chosen in a special religious ceremony at age eight, and Joel didn’t make the cut, so he goes to the regular part of the school but spends as much time as he can on the rithmatics side of campus. While delivering a note to a teacher in a rithmatics classroom, Joel witnesses a duel that ends with that professor’s losing his place and being replaced by the younger professor winning his position. Joel immediately dislikes the younger professor and wonders what he’s up to, especially when rithmatic students start disappearing. What follows is a steampunky magical mystery with various twists and so on.

While I enjoyed this book, it’s really not that great. Brandon Sanderson writes a lot of books, and it seems like he wrote this one pretty quickly. It follows the usual Harry Pottery story arc, and while it’s not exactly predictable, I wasn’t surprised by the outcome. Which is fine when the outcome isn’t annoying, as it is here. It seems like Sanderson spent the bulk of his time coming up with the magic system, which is innovative. I enjoyed that part. Basic rithmatics looks almost like a game played on the ground with chalk, circles and lines for defenses and mythical creatures for offenses.

chalklingsdiagram

The book is, for obvious reasons, illustrated, and I missed that part since I listened to it, but judging from my Google Images results, I sure wasn’t missing much. These illustrations look more like they’re for a kids’ book than YA. Anyway.

Again, I enjoyed it. It’s fun, easy YA and was a nice break from The Stand. It passed the time during my Massive Scanning Project. Sanderson has a sequel queued up for 2017, but that’s so far away that I’m sure I’ll have forgotten all about The Rithmatist. I guess that’s my main problem with Sanderson: he’s working on too many series at once, and it seems like this one might be an afterthought, like he’s just churning out books as fast as he can for the money. Not releasing the next book in a series for four years is a bit excessive (though I guess that if Mr. Stephenking can do it, Sanderson thinks he can too).