5.0 out of 5 stars Stand alone greatness
Despite it being the third part of a trilogy, The Golden Compass (or Northern Lights) is an amazing book on its own, and it will stand alone as one of the greatest books for scores to come!
Published on April 26 2004 by R. Ludlow
3.0 out of 5 stars Great for younger readers, but I was not swept away
I picked up The Golden Compass by Philip Pullman because I'd heard a lot of great reviews about it, and that it was recommended as a book for younger readers.
It quickly became clear to me that, like the Potter series, this book is targeted at younger readers. The language and tone of the text are straightforward and have that compelling pull that draws the younger...
Published on Mar 10 2004 by Phome
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4.0 out of 5 stars A Lyrical Fantasy,
This review is from: The Golden Compass: His Dark Materials: His Dark Materials - Book I (Hardcover)This is the first of three books by the author. This first effort describes the journey of an 11 year old girl, Lyra Belacqua. Although the story is somewhat typical, in that it is a journey of adventure and self-discovery, I have to give the author great credit for having a unique perspective and highly creative imagination.
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.
5.0 out of 5 stars Stand alone greatness,
5.0 out of 5 stars In a World All its Own,
This review is from: The Golden Compass: His Dark Materials: His Dark Materials - Book I (Hardcover)Though at first glance The Golden Compass, the first of a trilogy, looks like a book made for younger audiences, Philip Pullman manages to interweave the separate worlds of childhood and adulthood in a breath-defying manner. Set in a world similar to the one we all know, but with drastic differences, the novel follows the journey of a young girl, Lyra, as she finds her way through adolescence, all the while trying to make new discoveries. There are twists and turns and jumps and leaps as she learns the story of her life and learns that things are not always what they seem.
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.
5.0 out of 5 stars Not just a book, but an experience!,
This review is from: The Golden Compass: His Dark Materials (Paperback)This is my first review of anything, ever, and I'm proud to write it about one of the most astounding fantasy books that I've ever read!
The first thing that caught my attention about this book was the fact that it seemed so fresh. I avoided reading it for a long time, because I was afraid it would be a cheesy, run-of-the-mill fantasy. I couldn't have been further from the truth. To me, the most important thing about a fantasy book is it's ability to make the characters and world feel absolutely real, as if, perhaps, you were the one living in a fantasy world. Pullman's style plants you into his world as firmly as if you had been born in it. He doesn't fawn over his own creations, but gets down to the nitty-gritty, plunging right into the plot. You don't have time to worry about why humans have daemons, and how the heck bears can have armor. Ok, you do wonder, but it's written so beautifully, that you are swept away with it, allowing these mysteries to drift to the back of your mind, knowing that it will all be explained in good time. This, of course, only works if you are a patient person, like I am!
Pullman's realism extends into character development as well. Emotions are placed openly on the table, available for you to gasp in fear along with the heroine as she is anticipating being separated from a cherished companion, or to holler with joy as she escapes another daunting situation. There are much more complex situations as well, leading to feelings of guilt and confusion. The reader will also feel angry or confused, and sometimes hate the author for what he is doing. I think that that is the most important part of the writer/reader relationship: the ability of the writer to transmit difficult emotions to the reader, without withhold anything, for fear of hurting his 'dear characters'.
Of course, this brings up the question of the appropriateness of this book for children. This is the way that I look at it: children deal with difficult emotions and situations. Shielding them from those things will not help them grow up stronger. Letting them experience these through a book, which can then be discussed with thier parents, will help them gain mastery over their feelings, instead of being afraid of them. The heroine of the book, even with some shortcomings such as stubborness and 'roughness', is essentially a good, caring child, and a person willing to help the people she cares about, even if sacrificing her own safety. She can be a good role model.
The second question of appropriateness is the heavy religious/spiritual influence on the story. This is more difficult for me to address. I would say that this is up to the parents of the child. If the parents themselves have some sort of religious preferences, and still want to allow thier child to read the book, they may want to discuss with him or her, how the book is just an example of one persons opinion, and also, since it is fiction, it would tend to stretch things out of proportion. If you feel that you have a strong case against the main themes of the book, then this would be the perfect opportunity to discuss with your child why you disagree with the author's ideas.
Finally, I would like to wrap this up by saying that I am certainly lucky to have the chance to have read such a rich and complex tale, and would recommend it to anyone willing to leave our world, and get a taste of Phillip Pullman's complex universe!
3.0 out of 5 stars Great for younger readers, but I was not swept away,
This review is from: The Golden Compass: His Dark Materials: His Dark Materials - Book I (Hardcover)I picked up The Golden Compass by Philip Pullman because I'd heard a lot of great reviews about it, and that it was recommended as a book for younger readers.
It quickly became clear to me that, like the Potter series, this book is targeted at younger readers. The language and tone of the text are straightforward and have that compelling pull that draws the younger reader in, as if the author is sharing a secret story.
The story is that of a young orphan-of-sorts girl, Lyra, who has been allowed to mostly run wild and free in Oxford, among a bunch of dusty scholars. It begins with Lyra's unstoppable curiosity to see one of the "forbidden" rooms, where she finds herself trapped in a closet sneaking peaks and hearing tidbits of information that don't make a whole lot of sense to her.
When playing with Roger and their gyptian friends, Lyra starts to hear stories about Gobblers that kidnap children. Not much later, she is suddenly taken away from Oxford by Mrs Coulter, a beautiful lady unknown to Lyra. She enjoys staying with Mrs Coulter in London for a while, but all the beautiful surroundings have a dark undertone. It is up to Lyra to discover the secret behind the Gobblers and save the missing children - or that's what she thinks, anyway.
There is a dark twist to the story at the end. And of course there is the rest of the series to read if you want to know what happened after the cliffhanger left by Pullman.
The book is certainly compelling and unique in it storyline. It is a children's story in that it features mainly children and Lyra, a child, is the heroine. That's not to say that many adults won't enjoy the series (many adults also read Harry Potter).
Personnally, I was not entirely swept away by the book, in spite of all the positive points above. Maybe it's because the story is meant to be told to children. For example, Lyra often has the tendency to fall asleep, which I found somewhat annoying and thought could have been edited more thoughtfully. The overall tone and approach of the book did not sit well with me, but I think that's a matter of personal taste.
I would certainly recommend this book to younger readers, especially those with a passion for fantasy. As with all good stories, there are dark corners in this book, but I think that makes it stand out. Life isn't all roses, so why should books be? A good story requires danger and obstacles to overcome, and if Lyra fell asleep a little less often she might actually make a convincing heroine.
4.0 out of 5 stars A fascinating read,
Having only read the first book, I must admit that I don't see why anyone would find this novel offensive. True, I am not religious, and yet for those who are, the first book is not even set in our world, and therefore, anyone with rigid beliefs, could pass the book off as nothing more than fantasy.
All in all, an engaging read, and I will definitely be reading book 2, "The Subtle Knife". For younger readers however, I maintain that Potter is more appropriate (and still my favourite!).
2.0 out of 5 stars Religion or not,,
1.0 out of 5 stars BORING,
1.0 out of 5 stars Pullman didn't have to write such a stupid book,
1.0 out of 5 stars Don't let your kids read this!,
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The Golden Compass (His Dark Materials, Book 1) (Paperback)
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