Tuesday, March 09, 2010

The Subtle Knife by Philip Pullman

I find it hard to begin this review of The Subtle Knife, maybe because it was a book that I had picked up and put down before. Back in elementary school, after I had finished with The Golden Compass, I ran to my school’s library to grab the next in the series—which I ultimately never finished. After having finally pressed the last “Next Page” button on my Kindle version, I remembered why I had put it down in the first place.

The Subtle Knife is not a bad book by any means, but it lacks the otherworldliness of The Golden Compass. This is reasonable, considering that half of the book takes place in our own world, far away from Lyra’s version of England. It’s perhaps for this reason that I slogged through it. When I do read fantasy novels, I like them to be a world where magic and normal lives coexist in a practiced harmony. Jumping back and forth between world, especially between a pretty mundane one and a world that where your souls exist outside your body, is jarring. However, I have to believe that this is what Philip Pullman wanted us to feel. If the characters are forced to endure jumping back and forth through space and time, the reader should be able to sympathize.

I’m usually one to wax on and on about books, but, to be frank, The Subtle Knife felt like the means to get from book 1 to book 3. Who wants to write about the unremarkable path that links two fabulous cities anyway?

Sorry, I suck. :(

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