Review: The Subtle Knife (His Dark Materials #2) by Philip Pullman
Author: Philip Pullman
Series: His Dark Materials #2
Publisher: Yearling, an imprint of Random House Children’s Books
Publication Date: July 22, 1997
Age Group/Genre: Middle Grade/Fantasy
Here is the highly anticipated second installment of Philip Pullman’s epic fantasy trilogy, begun with the critically acclaimed The Golden Compass. Lyra and Will, her newfound friend, tumble separately into the strange tropical otherworld of Cittàgazze, “the city of magpies,” where adults are curiously absent and children run wild. Here their lives become inextricably entwined when Lyra’s alethiometer gives her a simple command: find Will’s father. Their search is plagued with obstacles–some familiar and some horribly new and unfathomable–but it eventually brings them closer to Will’s father and to the Subtle Knife, a deadly, magical, ancient tool that cuts windows between worlds. Through it all, Will and Lyra find themselves hurtling toward the center of a fierce battle against a force so awesome that leagues of mortals, witches, beasts, and spirits from every world are uniting in fear and anger against it. This breathtaking sequel will leave readers eager for the third and final volume of His Dark Materials. (Cover image and synopsis from Goodreads)
*Warning: This is the second book in a series. While I really don’t like spoilers, you might find some slight Book 1 spoilers in this review.*
No Sophomore Slump…
Normally I really don’t enjoy the second book in a series. They usually are the most boring to me, and they just kind of serve a purpose to get from the newness of the first book to the good stuff in book 3, especially in trilogies. For example, I LOVE all the Harry Potter books but The Chamber of Secrets was definitely my least favorite. And don’t even get me started on New Moon. So I wasn’t expecting to like The Subtle Knife as much as I did. In fact, I think I enjoyed it more than The Golden Compass, which was a nice surprise.
Full of Action, Complexity, and Controversy…
If you’ve been around my blog a bit, you know that I LOVE action in books. Lots of action, suspense, and twists and turns are what make me really enjoy a book. So I was really excited that The Subtle Knife seemed to have much more action than The Golden Compass. Sure, The Golden Compass had action, but I really feel like The Subtle Knife just started off with action and kept up the suspense for most of the book.
I really enjoyed when they went back and forth from one world to another. And I love how, in Lyra’s world, there are consequences for Asriel opening the window to the other worlds. I also really liked how the Dust is further explained in this book. And I love how Pullman continues to make all the characters so complex, and many characters end up being not at all what they seemed at first.
I also definitely noticed a lot more of the religious controversy in this one, although it didn’t bother me. That’s probably because I’m agnostic, and therefore I kind of enjoy reading books that explore different theories and maybe therefore are somewhat controversial for certain religions. I don’t have anything against religion, I just don’t personally believe in all of that. So I guess the controversial aspect of these books is interesting to me, but I can see why others might not enjoy this series because of that.
Here are a few of my favorite quotes from The Subtle Knife:
My review of The Golden Compass (His Dark Materials #1) by Philip Pullman