Well, The Subtle Knife fixes one of my biggest gripes about The Golden Compass, it gives Lyra a young friend that stays the entire book, and it is a better book for it, but it still doesn’t completely capture my interest. I don’t know what it is about these books that just don’t do it for me. It has interesting world-building, that usually is right up my alley, and it has talking animals, which is usually something I love. Everything in these books is just so super serious all the time. There isn’t much brevity, humor, or joy in these books. Even though we now have Will with Lyra, they both still act very much like grown-ups, and that always puts me off when reading young adult books.
Let’s talk about the young adult or middle-grade label that this book has on it. First off, these books never talk down to their audience, they are intelligently written, and the world-building is complex. Maybe I’m so used to current young adult books talking down to their audience? I think that you could replace all the children in this story as 18-year-olds and it would be classified as an adult book. This series has children killing other children and characters we follow threatening to kill people all the time.
This is really Will’s story. We get an interesting backstory about him taking care of his mom after his father disappears, we get him collecting a powerful knife that allows him powers that other people want, and we get agency with his character to find his father and run from the authorities. His friendship with Lyra is really good because both kids have grown-up way too quickly and not had the chance to have close friends. They are so hesitant and don’t really know how to express themselves to each other. In the highlight of the book, Will asks Pantalaimon, Lyra’s daemon, about their friendship, and the book finally had the heart I was craving.
I was not expecting the Lee Scoresby point of views and I have to say that I didn’t appreciate them until the end of the book. I liked this one more than the first book and I hope to like the third book the most. I’m wondering if it is just me at the moment and my mood with this book because thinking back on it while I write this review, this book is clever and has everything in it that I would like, but I am just having a hard time feeling engaged to it while reading. I think it just might be the writing style.
13/25 Possible Score
3 – Plot
3 – Characters
3 – World-Building
2 – Writing Style
2 – Heart & Mind Aspect>