The Golden Compass

The Golden Compass
by: Philip Pullman

Series: His Dark Materials Trilogy, Book 1

Challenges: YA Challenge, 1st in a Series Challenge

Published: 2001

# of pages: 368

I read this years ago, when I was in high school, but I had mostly forgot about it until I watched the movie last year. I wasn't all that impressed with the film, but I remembered how much I enjoyed the book, so I decided to re-read it. I thought it was just as good the second time around!

The story follows Lyra, a young orphan who is raised at Oxford until she stumbles upon an adventure that takes her to distant lands. Although Lyra lives in a world that is similar to ours (similar place names, etc), it has several large differences, including the fact that all humans have daemons...their souls living outside their bodies in animal forms. Lyra and her daemon, Pantalaimon, venture out on a quest to save their best friend from the child stealing Gobblers. They come into contact with a variety of characters including an evil golden monkey, a talking bear, witches, a fiery balloon flying Texan, and a band of gypsies.

When the movie came out, it was very controversial in the Christian community. I don't recall why exactly, except that the author has publicly claimed to be an atheist. I don't know why that in itself is upsetting since the majority of books published now are written by atheists. I haven't re-read the next 2 books in the series, so maybe there is something worthy of controversy in those. As far as this one goes, the creation story in Genesis is twisted to include mention of daemons for the story's purposes. The church in the story is also corrupted. Unfortunately, it reminds me of the real world's church history, but I can't be sure that's what the author was basing the fictional church on. Anyway, it's a fantasy, so keep that in mind while reading.

I think this is a great book for adult lovers of fantasy. I don't really feel like this is a great children's book. I don't think it's appropriate for younger young adults because it has some bad language and is kind of dark and intense. Also, it seems like it could be hard for younger readers to follow. Anyway, this is a young adult book that many adults would enjoy, so go check it out!

Have you reviewed this? Let me know and I'd be happy to post yours as well.

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