What I really like about Brandon Sanderson’s work is that he comes up with fresh, incredibly different systems of magic for all of his separate worlds. Figuring out how things work is half the fun of his novels.
This particular book is slanted for the YA audience. Joel is a student at the Armedius Academy – a charity case, as his father had once been their chalk maker, and when he was injured in an accident while at work, the Academy made sure to take care of his son’s education.
Joel’s father was a chalk maker because in this world (which is a version our world where the separate states of the US and Canada are islands), they have a system of magic called Rithmatics, based on drawing lines in chalk. Some people are able to make those lines come alive, and they become Rithmatists.
Joel has a genius sense for the drawings – but he doesn’t have the gift. Even so, he’s able to convince one of the Rithmatic professors to take him on for summer studies, at the same time as several Rithmatic students go missing. Rithmatists all go to the island of Nebrask after their training, to fight the wild Chalkings on that island. It would seem that some of the chalklings may have escaped.
This is a great story, and nicely pitched for the YA audience – there are some good lessons about using your time at school for all it’s worth, that manage to not get too preachy. I’d definitely throw this book the way of any voracious preteen readers I knew.