Sunday, 20 July 2014

The Golden Compass (His Dark Materials #1) - Philip Pullman

The Golden Compass (His Darkest Materials #1)
By Philip Pullman
Reviewed by Jeff
Published: January 1st 1995
Publisher: Alfred A. Knopf
Pages: 409
ISBN: 0679879242

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 compass of the title. 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. (Goodreads)
 I feel like I just read two different books. My first attempt at reading this book was almost a year ago, and I think I made it 60 pages before having to stop. The first half of this book is excruciatingly boring. Too much banter over stuff that really doesn't need to be so focused on. The second half was much better but overall the book still lacked something for me. I like the concept, but the concepts are not explained in earnest. The daemons are a really neat and potentially intoxicating development, but Pullman never really focuses on them until briefly at the end. Granted this is a trilogy and one can expect the first in the series to be bland, but this was too bland. There were some definite plot holes, like why Lyra doesn't use the altheiometer to determine exactly what lord astriel is up to, (however would make the whole book pointless.) among other events where a simple question to the device would have saved loads of time and chapter writing. Anyway long story short, it is an ok read.... An ok world build with mediocre characters. Will finish the series out of due diligence so hoping it gets better from here!

3/5 Carls

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