(review originally posted on my livejournal account: http://intoyourlungs.livejournal.com)
Now, because this is a sequel, I can't promise for no spoilers from The Golden Compass, so read the full-review at your own risk. I'll try to keep them to a minimum though. :)
I'm not really sure how to talk about book. I obviously really liked it, because I love this series, but it wasn't as good as the first one. I'm actually just not too sure what to talk about. You'd think I'd have more to say considering I had to write my final essay on it (but it was mostly about boring stuff like how Pullman presents the spirituality of children and stuff. Well, it wasn't BORING, but it's an essay, and I'm done school, so I don't want to think about essays. Anyways, I digress.)
One of the awesome things in his title is the titular subtle knife. Again, Pullman's imagination brings me to my knees; he just comes up with the coolest stuff!! If I had read this series when I was about 11-12, I would've been in complete and utter awe. A knife that can cut through dimensions? SO COOL. And the fact that Pullman brings the story to our world is a really neat notion as well, even though nothing of cosmic proportions happens there.
The Specters were also a neat (albeit somewhat terrifying) idea, and was another device to expound on the whole religion/original sin/growing up thing, which I found really cool (I read up on a lot of this stuff while writing my essay, and a lot of it is pretty neat.)
The introduction of Will was also a nice contrast to Lyra. Will is calm and mature for his age; Lyra is more on the wild side and throws caution to the wind a little bit more than Will would like. The two learn from each other and learn to grow because of each other and this is really sweet to watch.
The plot is exciting, but I felt like there was something missing from the first one, some kind of je ne sais quoi. I feel really lame saying that, but I can't think of any other way to describe it, because this was really, really good, but it didn't have the magic that the first one holds me for me.
Final Verdict: This is a very worthy sequel. It introduces a new main character who is a great contrast to Lyra, and watching the two characters grow learn together makes for a good read. Like the first installment, there's still all kinds of action going on that keeps the pages turning, but there was still something lacking for me. This book is still AMAZING, but it doesn't have the same hold on me that the first one does, but I don't hold it against this title at all. The first one is just that good. Pullman shows off his creative flair again in this installment as well, bringing all kinds of ideas to the table that make me pick up my jaw off the floor. Can you tell I love this series yet?