The Rithmatist is a piece of young adult fiction. It's authored by Brandon Sanderson, and as far as genre, I'd call it fantasy.
Set in the American Isles in an alternate universe, The Rithmatist follows Joel, a boy from a poor family who goes to a boarding school with children of wealthy and important families. Joel is an outsider at his school, and does not really fit in anywhere. Odd things are happening to Rithmatist students from the school, and Joel sets out to solve the mystery of what is happening. (Rithmatists are people who are gifted with the ability to bring their own chalk drawings to life. These moving chalk figures are called Chalklings.) Joel is obsessed with the Rithmatists in his society. He aches to become one of them. He obsesses over all things Rithmatist, and is very knowledgable but still lacks the ability to become a Rithmatist. Thus, in addition to not fitting in at school socioeconomically, Joel is also an outsider among the Rithmatists, and this seems to be even more challenging for him. Throughout The Rithmatsist a reoccurring theme is Joel's struggle to belong and his challenges in connecting with others, even as he makes friends.
I was, frankly, shocked by how quickly this book drew me in. I couldn't put it down. The characters were likable but even more than that the plot was surprising. The details were fascinating. Every aspect held my interest. I loved the alternate universe Sanderson created in the "American Isles" and reading each isle's name (ie "Nebrask") was entertaining. The familiar-yet-different setting was easy to picture. There were lots of funny moments in the story as well as moments that really made me stop and think, not only about the characters in the book but also applying light-bulb moments the characters had to my own life. Is this book predictable? About as predictable as eating popcorn for breakfast. With enough plot twists and intrigue to keep me turning the pages late into the night, I sped through this book only to wish there was more when I finished. My big problem with The Rithmatist? It's the first book in a series. And now I have to wait forEVER for the next book. I'm impatiently tapping my foot, because I'm excited to return to Joel's world. Sanderson is an excellent writer and is even more excellent at creating fascinating stories and worlds that are hard to stop thinking about.
My grade: A