Pullman has so intricately woven the textures of the two books that the outlines of the first are clearly recapitulated in...

THE SUBTLE KNIFE

From the His Dark Materials series , Vol. 2

The powerful second installment in the His Dark Materials fantasy trilogy, which began with The Golden Compass (1996), continues the chronicling of Lyra Silvertongue's quest to find the origins of Dust—the very stuff of the universe.

The first chapter is vintage Pullman: gorgeous imagery, pulse-pounding action, the baiting of readers' affections as they meet Will, 12, who is trying to protect his emotionally fragile mother and to locate his lost father, an explorer who vanished years before. Instead, Will finds a window into another world, where Lyra and her daemon have also tumbled. That world holds the talisman of the subtle knife, which can cut through anything, even the space between worlds. It wounds Will, but he is bound to it by a destiny neither he nor Lyra (nor readers) yet understand. The witches of Lyra's world, the scientists of Will's, the passionately evil Mrs. Coulter (Lyra's mother), and Lyra's champion Lee Scoresby seek the source of the disorder in the worlds and shimmering spaces that connect them. Angels that bless and Specters that eat the wills of adults appear; tantalizing glimpses of the past and future abound; the whole is presented in a rush of sensuous detail that moves and entrances.

Pullman has so intricately woven the textures of the two books that the outlines of the first are clearly recapitulated in the second, making it possible to read this one alone. But as it, too, ends in a tremendous cliffhanger, most readers will seek out the first volume while they eagerly await the third. (Fiction. 12+)

Pub Date: July 1, 1997

ISBN: 0-679-87925-0

Page Count: 325

Publisher: Knopf

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 15, 1997

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Part cautionary tale, part juicy love story, this will appeal to action and adventure fans who aren't yet sick of the genre.

SHATTER ME

A dystopic thriller joins the crowded shelves but doesn't distinguish itself.

Juliette was torn from her home and thrown into an asylum by The Reestablishment, a militaristic regime in control since an environmental catastrophe left society in ruins. Juliette’s journal holds her tortured thoughts in an attempt to repress memories of the horrific act that landed her in a cell. Mysteriously, Juliette’s touch kills. After months of isolation, her captors suddenly give her a cellmate—Adam, a drop-dead gorgeous guy. Adam, it turns out, is immune to her deadly touch. Unfortunately, he’s a soldier under orders from Warner, a power-hungry 19-year-old. But Adam belongs to a resistance movement; he helps Juliette escape to their stronghold, where she finds that she’s not the only one with superhuman abilities. The ending falls flat as the plot devolves into comic-book territory. Fast-paced action scenes convey imminent danger vividly, but there’s little sense of a broader world here. Overreliance on metaphor to express Juliette’s jaw-dropping surprise wears thin: “My mouth is sitting on my kneecaps. My eyebrows are dangling from the ceiling.” For all of her independence and superpowers, Juliette never moves beyond her role as a pawn in someone else’s schemes.

Part cautionary tale, part juicy love story, this will appeal to action and adventure fans who aren't yet sick of the genre. (Science fiction. 12 & up)

Pub Date: Nov. 15, 2011

ISBN: 978-0-06-208548-1

Page Count: 352

Publisher: HarperTeen

Review Posted Online: April 5, 2011

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Oct. 15, 2011

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Wrought with admirable skill—the emptiness and menace underlying this Utopia emerge step by inexorable step: a richly...

THE GIVER

From the Giver Quartet series , Vol. 1

In a radical departure from her realistic fiction and comic chronicles of Anastasia, Lowry creates a chilling, tightly controlled future society where all controversy, pain, and choice have been expunged, each childhood year has its privileges and responsibilities, and family members are selected for compatibility.

As Jonas approaches the "Ceremony of Twelve," he wonders what his adult "Assignment" will be. Father, a "Nurturer," cares for "newchildren"; Mother works in the "Department of Justice"; but Jonas's admitted talents suggest no particular calling. In the event, he is named "Receiver," to replace an Elder with a unique function: holding the community's memories—painful, troubling, or prone to lead (like love) to disorder; the Elder ("The Giver") now begins to transfer these memories to Jonas. The process is deeply disturbing; for the first time, Jonas learns about ordinary things like color, the sun, snow, and mountains, as well as love, war, and death: the ceremony known as "release" is revealed to be murder. Horrified, Jonas plots escape to "Elsewhere," a step he believes will return the memories to all the people, but his timing is upset by a decision to release a newchild he has come to love. Ill-equipped, Jonas sets out with the baby on a desperate journey whose enigmatic conclusion resonates with allegory: Jonas may be a Christ figure, but the contrasts here with Christian symbols are also intriguing.

Wrought with admirable skill—the emptiness and menace underlying this Utopia emerge step by inexorable step: a richly provocative novel. (Fiction. 12-16)

Pub Date: April 1, 1993

ISBN: 978-0-395-64566-6

Page Count: 208

Publisher: Houghton Mifflin

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 1, 1993

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