Book: The Golden Compass, Philip Pullman
Series: His Dark Materials #1
Publisher: Knopf Books
Release Date: April 16th, 1996
Here lives an orphaned ward named Lyra Belacqua, whose carefree life among the scholars at Oxford's Jordan 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. In this multilayered narrative, however, nothing is as it seems. Lyra sets out for the top of the world in search of her kidnapped playmate, Roger, bearing a rare truth-telling instrument, the alethiometer. All around her children are disappearing—victims of so-called "Gobblers"—and being used as subjects in terrible experiments that separate humans from their daemons, creatures that reflect each person's inner being. And somehow, both Lord Asriel and Mrs. Coulter are involved.
I came across this book on a Buzzfeed article which stated a bunch of books that you had to read in your 20s, because they were so profound and awe-inspiring. A lot of my books on my TBR at the moment are actually from that list. Here’s the link if anyone reading this is in their 20s and wants to take a look:
And, after months after reading that article, I finally got around to reading the first book I got off that list: The Golden Compass. I'd heard of it, but never heard anything about it. Never seen the movie, or looked at the synopsis, nothing. I went into this blind.
Before I get into the story, I just need to talk about the writing. It is simply beautiful. Philip Pullman has such a great way with words. He makes everything flow so effortlessly, and grabs you, and it is so easy to just close your eyes and imagine the world that he has created.
The main character is Lyra, and I liked her a lot. Even though she’s only supposed to be eleven, she sounds and acts so much older and wiser many times. Maybe that’s because she a part of this destiny of the fate of the world, but while it flowed wonderfully, I did feel at times that she sounded too old for her age. Many times she would come across as any other eleven year old, but I just didn’t believe the parts where it seemed like she aged ten years.
However, I did love how her life changes in an instant. Everything she thought was true isn’t, and she has to adjust her whole life’s views. I loved many of the other characters too and some were so despicable, I couldn’t help but love and hate them. I did wish that she could’ve had a better relationship with Lord Asriel, but I just don’t see that happening.
This is a magical series I completely understand why this was in a list of books you had to read. I urge anybody, in their twenties or not, to pick up this book and immerse yourself in its world.