Friday, February 13, 2015

Audiobook / Banned Book / TBR Pile: The Golden Compass

The Golden Compass is the first book in Philip Pullman's His Dark Materials series. First of all, let me just say that I avoided the media craze on this book. I've heard really vague details of Pullman making a controversial statement of his intentions writing this story, but I've also had a few people tell me how fantastic the book is. So, not wanting outside viewpoints (yes, even the author's) to taint my own, I chose to read this book without looking into the background and debate of it.

(picture taken from Goodreads)

First Impression: I don't really know how to feel about this. On one hand, Pullman has some really unique ideas, and I like how he has fluidly incorporated fantasy into a realistic setting that's somewhat steampunk as well (with flying blimp airships and the like). I also like how the daemons reflect their human masters. Personality symbolism, you could say. That being said, I don't like how few of the characters seem to have good intentions. There's a big muddle of evil acts, and I'm curious to find out why. I like Lyra with her pure, childish curiosity and good intentions. Pantalaimon is neat as well, and the Gyptians are fun and helpful (typical of the underdogs, I suppose). But my favorite is
Iorek Byrnison, the armored bear! What a great character!

Conclusion: Wow, this is a tough one to conclude. Let me say, for the first eight CDs, this book was fantastic. Pullman created some really fantastic characters. They're complex and realistic for this alternate reality, and I liked a lot of them. His writing style is complicated and exciting. Also, the audio was narrated by a full cast, who all did a great job! I think it would be fun to do the different voices for this book. Now...the last, ninth CD. What a disappointment. I'm crushed! Without giving anything away, let me just say that Pullman makes the ending more painful and genuinely horrible than it needs to be. Also, he's trying too hard to draw the line between Lyra and her parents, between good and evil. And the argument that the church has backed evil action in the past and is, therefore, inherently evil doesn't work for me. Platitudes like that just don't apply in a complex universe. And "the bad people believe dust is bad, so it must be good" argument. (sigh) It's unfortunate, but I won't be reading the rest of this series.

This is the first book I've read for the 2015 Audiobook Challenge and for the 2015 Banned Book Challenge, as well as the second book for my 2015 TBR Pile Reading Challenge. Yay for overlap!


  1. Your reaction was almost exactly the same as mine! And I also liked Iorek best. Sigh -- I'm always saddened when a great idea goes wrong.

    1. I agree! There were so many great directions this story/series could have gone. Well, at least I finally read it and enjoyed most of it, right?