Title: Knife’s Edge
Author: Hope Larson; Illustrator Rebecca Mock
Publisher: First Second Books
Publication Date: June 2017
Genre: Graphic Novel/Young Adult
Series or Stand Alone: Series Book Two
Synopsis can be found here.
I received a copy of this book in exchange for an honest review.
After their adventure in the first novel, Cleo and her twin brother Alex are reunited with their father, Mr. Dodge. And Mr. Dodge begins to explain the compass and knife, the two keys to locating a lost and forgotten treasure. Adventure awaits in this next installment!
I wasn’t sure what to expect from this book when I was first given the chance to read the first story in the series: Compass South. And while I wholly enjoyed the first book, this second book adds even more danger and adventure to the twin’s story.
There’s much to admire in this story! There’s adventure and plot twists and fast moving ships. I like multi-dimensional all of the characters are, especially Cleo and Alex as they adapt to their new surroundings, are hunted by the pirates, and learn to make new friends. (and forgive old ones!)
The adventure moves quickly and I think a lot of that is also due to the excellent illustrations by Rebecca Mock. Cleo and Alex look so similar since Cleo cut her hair, only really wearing different clothing, and yet their are unique individuals that are easy to distinguish not only in their dialogue but in the art as well.
I love how Cleo’s heart is so full of conflict. In the earlier book, she cut her hair and started dressing as a boy, in order for the twins to disguise themselves as long lost red haired twins to a wealthy man. Cleo’s identity as a female and what restraints are put on her because of her sex are even more blatant in this second book when she decides to take fencing lessons from a talented swordsman, and her father and brother disapprove. I also really like how she feels more comfortable in boy’s clothing, and how she recognizes the freedoms and double standards that surround being a woman compared to her being viewed as a man. Of course this isn’t just in this historical time line, but also still revelant today. It’s nicely touched upon, told from Cleo’s own perspective of heartache and confusion, as she tries to sort out her courage and freedom as well as what’s expected of her from her brother and father.
That said, it’s also Cleo’s emotional reaction of learning that Mr. Dodge is not their biological father, that breaks my heart in a special way. In the first book, we learn that Dodge is raising the twins as his own when his young love Hester dies and leaves them to her. Alex is much more confident in his reaction, that Dodge is the only father he’s ever known and that’s that. While Cleo wrestles emotionally about never knowing her mother or her father. (And being surprised that Dodge is not their “real” father.) I liked how each twin reacted to the news, specifically because it felt natural and organic. I myself am adopted and while I lean more towards Alex’s camp, it was clear that Cleo’s vulnerability was heightened during this time when she was dealing with many other things.
I would recommend this book to Adults, Young Adults and Middle Graders alike. The adventure will keep the reader going, but it’s the subtle underlying messages of freedom, acceptance, bravery and love that kept me spellbound.
Hope Larson adapted and illustrated A Wrinkle in Time: The Graphic Novel, for which she won an Eisner Award. She is also the author and illustrator of Salamander Dream, Gray Horses, Chiggers, and Mercury. She lives in Los Angeles. hopelarson.com
Illustrator Rebecca Monk is an illustrator and comics artist. Her work has appeared in various publications, including the New York Times and the New Yorker. She is co-organizer of the Hana Doki Kira anthology. Compass South is her first book. rebeccamock.com
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