The United States is not so united anymore. The states are more of a series of islands, 60 to be exact, that are loosely ruled by a watered down version of the Constitution. The Islands are plagued by Wild Chalkings, dangerous creatures with murderous intent that have overtaken the Nesbark territory and pose a threat to the rest of the Islands. A group of highly trained magical warriors known as Rithmatists use their unique abilities to fight against the Wild Chalkings. Chosen at the age of 8 following an inception ceremony, Rithmatists are sent off to learn the skills necessary to battle these evil creatures. A Rithmatist's power lies in their ability to bring two-dimensional chalkings to life through magical powers rooted in geometry.
Sixteen year old Joel is a bit of a misfit. Unlike the vast majority of the students who attend the prestigious Armedious Academy, Joel has no rithmatic talent or money. He is the son of a chalk maker and a scholarship student. However his lifelong dream is to become a Rithmatist, so he stays behind the scenes delivering messages for the professors and sneaking into lectures only Rithmatists are permitted to attend. When Rithmatists start mysteriously disappearing in the middle of the night, Joel teams up with Professor Finch and Melody, a persnickety classmate, to determine who or what is behind these mysterious disappearances.
Brandon Sanderson returns to the teen fiction scene with an exciting new fantasy adventure centered around a brilliantly constructed magic system. As the book is the first in a series, it does start out a bit slow, however there is plenty of intrigue and adventure to keep readers guessing. The story reminded me a bit of the Harry Potter series, if Harry possessed Harold's Purple Crayon and Hogwarts was a magical math camp.