Katie's Reviews > The Subtle Knife

The Subtle Knife by Philip Pullman
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's review
Dec 07, 2009

liked it
bookshelves: children-ya, fantasy
Recommended to Katie by: Half the women on Facebook
Read in December, 2009 , read count: 1

Awright, I read it, and I feel like I spent Saturday snorting heavily cut Oxycontin and I want to have a word with my dealer (ALISON!). I'd say it's sweet, but it sure isn't; I'd say it's exciting, but I really was never on the edge of my chair; it's true I couldn't put it down, but that's just because there was more left to get through. (I mainlined the thing for 8 hours.)

I admit to mild interest in how it turns out, but I'm not into it enough to forgive Pullman for offing central characters mid-story. (The jerk.) If you're gonna write a fantasy, write a gol-durn fantasy; have a deus ex machina when you need one, like when you have equipped your wretched character with one. However, I will reserve judgment (mostly) about the story until I've finished the last one--except to say that Pullman could have nailed the Church a lot harder if he'd studied up on it some more. If you've got a hammer, get a gol-durned nail!

The thing is well-imagined, but that doesn't distinguish it from any other fantasy I've read. Pullman's only marginally original idea is the universal animal familiars, and they aren't all that original. I found it engaging, sort of in the same way Amelia Peabody is engaging, but more in the way double chocolate brownie ice cream is engaging. Amelia is funny and interesting and offers a lot of variety, a lot of different voices. The only humor I have found in His Dark Materials is in the mind-control devices. Ironic that they play such a central role in the first book, since Pullman seems to have found a way to tap into my brain and access my pleasure center, like a biologist threading an electrode into a rat's head.


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