Joel has dreamed of being a Rithmatist, from studying theories to reading about old duels, but he unfortunately doesn’t have the Rithmatic powers of being able to bring chalk to life. When students suddenly start disappearing from his school, he must team up with a Rithmatics professor and Rithmatic student, Melody, in order to figure out who is kidnapping his classmates.
Spoiler Free Review:
I definitely didn’t dislike this book by any means, but considering how much I love everything else I’ve read by Brandon Sanderson, I am a little disappointed. I was totally ready to love everything about this story, which I unfortunately didn’t.
The strongest thing about this book for me were some of the non-main characters and the overall relationships between characters.
Melody is ‘weird’ and an outcast from the rest of her classmates for not having a skill that everyone thinks she should have, but she rarely lets that bother her and keeps on being herself. She is skilled in ways that aren’t valued much in this society. I love her attitude and how funny she is.
Fitch, the Rithmatics professor, is kind of nervous and timid, but he’s strong when it really counts. I loved the relationship between him and Joel. Joel can be kind of headstrong and harsh, but I think Fitch did a good job getting Joel to realize that his words and actions might hurt others.
I also really enjoyed seeing Melody and Joel become friends! At first, Joel is kind of jealous of Melody’s powers and can’t understand why she wouldn’t want them, so he doesn’t have the best opinion of her. However, this changes later on and they make a pretty good team because they compliment each other.
I didn’t love the pacing of this book. It felt very slow at the beginning to me, especially when I felt like all the time we spent with Joel could have been spent on more interesting characters or learning about the world more. There is a lot of information at the end of the book about certain characters and the world that make me really want the sequel (if it ever happens).
The absolute downfall of this book to me was Joel. I thought he was pretentious and he always thought everything would go his way. I found him so annoying, so I was bummed that the entire book is about him. He kind of grew throughout the book, but not enough for me to even come close to liking him.
I thought there were some weird sexist and racist undertones in this book. Joel was constantly saying weird things about Joseun (Korea), because in this world, they have become a global power that influences the rest of the world. The society is also strict on what women are allowed to do. I found this really strange because normally Brandon is pretty inclusive in his stories.
I’m really intrigued after the ending of this book. There were so many things that were brought up at the end that I need to know more about! As always with Brandon, the ending was a wild ride. I would definitely read the sequel if it ever comes out.