In a steampunk, alternate history world, there are people who can make pictures move, who can make lines a defense or an offense. These people are called Rithmatists. With a piece of chalk they can draw creatures that come to life, called chalklings, but remain as flat and two-dimensional as ever.
Joel is a teenage guy who has dreamed of being a Rithmatist. But he missed his chance eight years ago, so he's just a normal person who is completely absorbed in the world he isn't a part of. He attends a prestigious school, which accommodates normal people as well as Rithmatists. But when students start to go missing, things start to get ugly, and Joel steps up to help figure out what's going on.
The Rithmatist by Brandon Sanderson is a truly unique story. It's the first book by Mr. Sanderson that I have ever read, and it has become one of my favorite books. At the start of every chapter there are illustrations of defenses and the chalklings, providing the reader with even more fuel to help the imagination follow the story. It's creative, funny, and sometimes a little creepy, but still exciting. There were twists I didn't expect, and things that blew my theories out of the water. Joel and his Rithmatist partner in crime have a few sarcastic exchanges, but good-natured most of the time. It took me a while to learn how old Joel was, but that was a minor issue. I enjoyed every page of the book. The characters are lovely, the world is fascinating and made me want to go there and explore and learn everything about it and the chalklings.
This book is also very clean. After having read two other young adult books with some issues, this was an extremely nice change, not having to worry about much of the content. The only thing that readers should be aware of is the violence/gore in the book. If you or your child are easily unsettled by gore, there are some scenes involving wild chalklings that are rather violent and gory.
The ending of the book was brilliant and really fun to see in my mind, and left me wanting more immediately. I'm very eager to see where the next book in this series goes. I would recommend this to anyone who really enjoys steampunk, drawing, or geometry.