Did you ever watch the movie The Golden Compass, which was based off of this book? Yes? Did it capture the magic of the book? Probably not eh?
Philip Pullman’s literary achievement in the His Dark Materials series just didn’t seem to translate well to screen. What is clear is that they killed off a series that could potentially of been a great set of movies, that being said it was a great book.
This book, and series, was the center of some speculation over the ‘anti-christian’ content, I prefer not to get into a debate on this and would rather look at it from a purely creative view.
In Northern Lights, Pullman paints the picture of an alternate reality, beginning in an Oxford parallel to ours. From there, Pullman uses his rich prose and inventive story telling to show us a world that is both like ours, and completely different. And it is the use of our world that essentially luls us into a false sense of security before the author hits us with some brilliant plot twists.
Now, most good books will have you guessing straight from the get go, just like I did with this book. That being said, you can be disappointed if everything is as you expect, after all what is the point in reading a story when you know whats going to happen one hundred pages in? Northern Lights does not disappoint, the plot twists are sickeningly good, and keeps the reader wanting more. That, I believe, is where the movie missed out, it didn’t throw in some of the fantastic plot twists the book did, and therefore fell short.
As for the protagonist Lyra? she is the embodiment of what many people wish they could be, the rebel against overwhelming authority. And she fulfills the role wonderfully, and as this book progresses (and moves on to The Subtle Knife and The Amber Spyglass) Lyra really develops as a character.
It really is a joy to read, and once you’ve finished the story, it doesn’t just leave you with that sense of longing as most good series do. It also leaves you with a few questions about the religious connotations within, so I guess it is in someway comparable to C.S.Lewis’ The Chronicles of Narnia.