The Golden Compass

November 12, 2008
What if you were captured by an evil woman and taken to the North Pole? What would you do? Just ask Lyra Belacqua and her daemon, which is the equivalent of a soul in this book, Pantalaimon, to which this happens in Phillip Pullman's wonderful novel, The Golden Compass. Lyra is invited to live with Mrs. Coulter in her house in Oxford. What she doesn't know is that Mrs. Coulter is a member of the “Gobblers,” or the General Obligation Board. They are a group of people who take children up to the North to examine the Dust, a mysterious substance that exists between children and their daemons. Adults do not have dust, because their daemons do not change shape, like children's daemons. Mrs. Coulter wants to find a way to examine it, and she needs Lyra's help to do so. Little does she know that Lyra has the alethiometer, a mysterious object Lyra can use to help her on her journey through the fantastic world of The Golden Compass. Join Lyra Belacqua on her enchanting adventure to faraway lands, talking polar bears, and a mystery that she is dragged into- whether she likes it or not.

I was pulled into this book by its strong ending and the suspenseful cliffhanger at the end of every chapter as well as at the very end of the book. As Lyra and Pan are leaving their universe on the last page of the book, the universe they knew and loved, and heading towards another, the book ends with, “So Lyra and her daemon turned away from the world they were born in, and looked toward the sun, and walked into the sky” (293). It is impossible to put this book down, along with its sequel, The Subtle Knife, which picks up where the Golden Compass ends. A wonderful book with a terrific beginning and an emotional ending, The Golden Compass will have you laughing and crying at the same time.

Although it had many positive aspects, The Golden Compass also had several negative points, including some very poorly described characters. When describing Mrs. Coulter, the author writes, “She was beautiful and young. Her sleek black hair framed her cheeks and her daemon was a golden monkey” (58). This is an extremely poor description. The only way I was actually able to visualize her was from my memory of the movie. The book actually has no description of the main character, Lyra, and once again, I had to remember her from the movie. If I had been able to imagine the characters a bit better, I might have been able to connect more easily to the book.

Overall, I thought that this was a great book with a wonderful twist at the end. I would recommend this book for older readers, or some younger readers with a better grasp on books. This book would be fine for male and female alike, though girls might be able to connect better to the main character than boys. I greatly enjoy this book and hope others will too. If you didn't like the movie, I beg that you do not use this as your excuse to reject this fantastic book. Remember: don't judge a book by its movie! Now, if you'll excuse me, I have to go read the Subtle Knife.

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