Friday, July 17, 2015

The Golden Compass - Philip Pullman

The Golden Compass
Title: The Golden Compass
Author: Philip Pullman
Publication Date: 1/1/95
Pages: 399
Genre: Fantasy / Young Adult / Fiction
How I Found It: It's been around for ages
Date Completed: 6/10/15

Summary: In a world remarkably like our own and yet different in some key ways, young Lyra and her companion daemon Pantalaimon face a mysterious threat, set out on a quest to find and defeat it, and encounter a host of unique characters along the way.

What I Thought: I am writing this post nearly a month after completing the book and I still do not know what I want to say. The Golden Compass left me feeling conflicted. I think I was hoping to be swept into a magical world on par with Narnia or Harry Potter. I did not dislike the book, but I cannot say I loved it. 

My awesome friend Suzanne over at Tattoed Missionary had some fantastic things to say about the book. Go read her post. She had better, more substantive things to say about this book than I do. We approached the book from the same basic initial understanding: we saw the movie poster and knew there were polar bears. Also, I remember Nicole Kidman looking glorious (as always) in the trailer. The movies on my queue now that I've read the book, although I've heard they made some big changes. Has anyone seen it and read the book? Thoughts?

As I contemplate my experience with this book, I am realizing something; I think part of the reason I did not love the book was because of all the animals. Ok, before you get all crazy and accuse me of being an animal-hater, hear me out. In general, I do not enjoy animal stories. I have never had a pet other than fish (thanks, dad) and Kevin gets on me all the time about how I do not understand what it's like for humans to have a relationship with an animal. He's kind of right. So, here is this book where the main premise of the parallel world is that everyone has a animal-shaped daemon with them at all times connected to their lifeforce. Like a permanent pet that's weirdly also part of you in some emotional/spiritual way. This fantasy novel is crying out for a reader who understands the connection between a pet and an owner. I think the flaw here is very clearly with me, not Pullman's work. 

In fact, I thought the book was well-written and fairly interesting. I typically love alternative worlds with fantastical ideas and creatures. I simply struggled to engage with this one. Maybe I read it at the wrong time in my life or am missing some key emotional capability needed to appreciate it fully.

Have you read it? What did you think?

Rating: ★★★☆☆
Will I Re-Read: Maybe with kids someday...

A Reduced Review: A unique, engaging fantasy novel that I struggled to connect to for a surprising reason. 

1 comment:

  1. I haven't read this book, but I understand what you mean about not understanding the human-animal connection. I've just never had that experience. The books about animals that I like always involve highly anthropomorphized animals.