I just decided to make this a series. Literally, as I was typing the title I thought, “now this would make a good, weekly post”. Now that I’m thinking on it further I’m not sure that I can do a book review a week. I can, but I might drive myself mad doing so, so maybe every two weeks.
Anyhow, have you ever read The Golden Compass by Philip Pullman? Although it did have a Hollywood movie out of it, I can assure you that the book is far superior to the film. In all honesty, just don’t watch the movie. The BBC is planning to release a series based on the book series, and you should really wait for that if you want to watch any adaptation of the book.
Now, The Golden Compass was originally titled Northern Lights on its UK debut. I’m not sure why it was given the name change for its release in North America, but it was changed nonetheless.
It may appear to be a book targeted towards a younger generation of readers, and you would be right…and wrong at the same time. Yes, I was introduced to The Golden Compass (His Dark Materials Series) during middle school and high school, but you would be amiss to think that the books lose their appeal to anyone older.
I continually find myself picking up the books again and again because Pullman’s voice is so unique, and the world he has imagined is both familiar and terrifying at the same time. It is set in an alternate reality, one that mirrors Oxford University in many ways, but it deviates in that the world seems dominated by steampunk machines, and everyone has a companion that is a reflection of their personality.
Now, these books did spark a great deal of controversy when published, and they are still on the banned book lists in some areas because of their seeming attack on the church. Now, Pullman has said numerous times that he never intended to criticize the church with his work, but you’ll have to read it decide for yourself whether he was being sly or not.
Even though our protagonist is a young girl, Lyra, the narration of the work is not dumbed down for a younger audience. Pullman’s voice is mature, and his clear and precise language allows for a mature reader to enjoy the work as much as a younger reader.
Pullman also masters the narrative arc in this book. It opens with Lyra discovering a secret she should not, and while The Golden Compass mostly answers these questions, it also leaves enough unanswered to provide the foundation for the next two books in the series.
Basically, if you haven’t read any of his works, then you certainly should go check them out. He is even releasing a continuation of the story this year. Fans of the original series are thrilled (myself included), and I can say that I’ve already pre-ordered my copy of the book.
Now that I’ve rambled on about this book, I really just want to curl up a read the whole series again 🙂
*The image of Philip Pullman’s The Golden Compass is his own, and I take no ownership of the above image, and it is being used for educational purposes only.