Book Review – The Golden Compass (His Dark Materials, #1) by Philip Pullman

Rating: 5star

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The Golden Compass Review

Rereading this series in preparation for the new TV adaptation released this month. My first read-through was at the end of middle school. The Golden Compass brought back all the magic I felt from it way back then. I’m reminded of why I loved the series so much as a kid. Being interested in science, I loved the unique fusion of religion, quantum physics and fantasy that Phillip Pullman created. Even better was the added steampunk nature of Lyra’s world. I thought going into this book again that I’d understand more than I did in middle school, but surprisingly not very many new concepts stood out to me. I attribute that to Pullman’s clear and evocative writing. One new theme I did recognize this time around, however, was how non-black & white the concept of good vs evil was. It’s interesting to think about one of Lyra’s strengths — which is her ability to lie — as being something that isn’t quite virtuous at all. Likewise, Lyra was constantly compelled to do things that were morally wrong, but were necessary for the greater good. As a kid reading this YA fiction book, The Golden Compass acts as a great coming of age story with many valuable lessons; the most important being the loss of innocence. Having already read the entire series, I know that these themes play out in different ways until the end.

I really hope the TV show gets the darker, grittier nature of this book right in the face of some of the more spectacular aspects of the book. I know that the series only gets better as it progresses, so I’m excited to get to The Subtle Knife.

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