viernes, 12 de enero de 2018

The Golden Compass - Philip Pullman [Review]

Title: The Golden Compass (His Dark Materials #1)
Author: Philip Pullman
Genre: Fantasy, Middle Grade / Young Adult, Fiction
Publisher: Knopf Books for Young Readers
Original publishing year: 1994
Pages: 399

Recently, La Belle Sauvage was released, a book that like is a prequel of His Dark Materials trilogy, so today I’m reviewing the first installment in the original trilogy titled The Golden Compass, which it’s also known as The Northern Lights in the UK.

This book follows Lyra Belacqua, whose carefree life among the scholars at Oxford's Jordan
The alethiometer
College is shattered by the arrival of two powerful visitors. First, her fearsome uncle, Lord Asriel, appears with evidence of mystery and danger in the far North, including photographs of a mysterious celestial phenomenon called Dust and the dim outline of a city suspended in the Aurora Borealis that he suspects is part of an alternate universe. He leaves Lyra in the care of Mrs. Coulter, an enigmatic scholar and explorer who offers to give Lyra the attention her uncle has long refused her. There have been numerous kidnappings of kids in London, and one of those victims is Lyra’s best friend, Roger, so she sets herself the mission of finding him and all those kidnaped kids, on the way she will discover many truths she ignored before, helped by a rare truth-telling instrument that looks like a golden compass, an alethiometer.    

I have a mixed opinion about this book, I remember I watched the movie long ago, so most of
the book was not a surprise to me because I already knew what it was about, but still I wanted to discover how much the book and movie differ and to know how this story ends, so I intend to read the following two books, but right now they aren’t my priority.

When I watched the movie I didn’t notice this story was so philosophical. I really like the concept of dæmons. In this story each person has a companion called dæmon that are physical representations of the person’s soul, when the person is a kid, the dæmon can shape shift, and will settle in a permanent form that represents the person until the person reach certain maturity. Dæmons are a separate being but at the same time they are one with their person, it’s physically impossible for them to be apart.

Movie poster
I’m kind of confused because this book is supposed to be for kids, but has a dense story and more complicated topics, like philosophy and gives a pretty bad image of religion, which made this book banned by the Vatican and according to rumors, they possible helped to cancel the project of the second movie.

I really liked the setting but I didn’t like Lyra at all, she was annoying, kind of vain, and a compulsive liar, sometimes she seemed a brat, but I think it’s what makes her a different type of main character. Mr. Asriel and Mrs. Coultier are interesting characters with clashing points of view, but even if Asriel is supposed to be the “good side” he was a dick.

The writing style is highly descriptive, which makes the book slow and dense sometimes. As the first half serves to help the reader understand the setting and sets the conflict, it’s slow. I must admit it took me too long to read this book because I was bored. When Lyra finally finds what she’s looking for things get intense and fast paced, I couldn’t put the book down.

This book has an interesting setting, concepts and unpredictable main characters; it’s surrounded by a mysterious vibe and has some unexpected plot twists that keep the reader turning the page. If you are looking for a promising first installment and a book with deep concepts and questions, this may be perfect for you.

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