This book is well worth the read because it is so well written. It is not another epic fantasy knock-off of J.R.R. Tolkien. I sense that the author has not created anything new, but has eclipsed his peers by the sheer lyricism and quality in the storytelling.
The purpose of this review is not to rehash the story. I could simply put you on notice that there are gypsies, armored bears, witches and the like. However, the much greater thing here is quality. This is why I will read the second book and why you should read the first.
Usually marketed to young adult readers, the novel helps bring forth the idea of growing up and finding one's self. One of the elements of the novel that caught my eye was that everyone had what was known as a daemon, which is a physical appearance of a person's soul. The dae-mons are there as consciences; and for young readers, it allows them to begin learning about the psyche of themselves. We learn that daemons are capable of changing forms until the stage of adolescence is reached and as is seen with Lyra's own daemon, Pantalaimon, the forms change to match its owner's mood and thoughts. This helps young adults and even children learn that for a good portion of their lives, they will be a mixture of emotions and nothing is ever set in stone. Only when a person is finally old enough to realize what they were meant to do does life begin to settle, which can begin to happen at an adolescent phase. And that is just one example of the way in which Pullman uses symbolism to appeal to his audience.
However, The Golden Compass also delves deeper for adults who pick up the book. The intricacies found in the book that deal with politics and the church and the way in which they are all connected in order to make people "happy" are ideas that often times, only adults will be able to understand completely. There is the sense of enjoyment while reading a novel that not only manages to remind us that we all still have a child living within us, but that can also teach us of the workings of the world through debates, discoveries, emotions, and world views. There are subtleties in even the ideas that seem miniscule at first; while the daemons can be seen as mere physical manifestations of the human soul, it can be further examined and the slight fact that daemons are almost always the opposite sex of its owner is something a bit more complex. The thought that daemons could possibly also be an extension of the soul in terms of one's soul mate is a proposal that only an adult would be able to comprehend, furthering along the simplicity of a child's mind while reading the novel.
Although Pullman's trilogy is often compared to the works of J.R.R. Tolkien and J.K. Rowling, the only similarity I can see is the idea of a world that is similar to the one we know but with differences that cannot be overlooked. While all three novel collections use mythology and fantasy as a background, The Golden Compass manages to allow both children and adults to en-joy the words of the novel in diverse ways, depending on what type of perspective the reader has. Whereas J.K. Rowling's Harry Potter series is very clear-cut and to-the-point and J.R.R Tolkien's The Lord of the Rings collection is a deeper delving into the convolution of a mystic world, Pullman merges both those styles in a piece of work that is highly unmatched.
Despite age, the genre the novel is placed in, and its target audience, Philip Pullman de-livers a work of fiction that will become a timeless piece in due time. The Golden Compass is a read that no one should miss because whether it is a child-like fairy tale or a mysterious, dark, and winding story that is being sought after, the book delivers just that. It is a riveting tale that once it has been started, the book will never leave your hands for the mere reason that, despite the cliché, it is too good to put down until it has been finished.