Northern Lights (US: The Golden Compass) (His Dark Materials #1) by Philip Pullman
Lyra is rushing to the cold, far North, where witch clans and armored bears rule. North, where the Gobblers take the children they steal–including her friend Roger. North, where her fearsome uncle Asriel is trying to build a bridge to a parallel world.
Can one small girl make a difference in such great and terrible endeavors? This is Lyra: a savage, a schemer, a liar, and as fierce and true a champion as Roger or Asriel could want–but what Lyra doesn’t know is that to help one of them will be to betray the other.
My Rating: ⭐⭐⭐
This is very much a teen/young adult book and I didn’t expect to give it much of a rating seeing as I’m a long way away from the target audience. The characters and storylines are quite simplistic in how they jump around with little development in between scenes but at the same time they are complex enough to challenge a younger reader.
I found the closeness to reality with the society, locations and technology almost like ours but subtly different, a bit jarring. I couldn’t get comfortable with it. In addition the concepts of daemons and sentient polar bears was just way off for me. With both being central to the story I found them both a constant niggle.
Some of the characters were very interesting though. I particularly liked the gyptians (even if the clan style society was a little over simplified) and the society of scholars that raised Lyra in Oxford. Lord Asriel was a complex and dark character that I wouldn’t expect to see in a book for such a young audience.
SPOILER: the plotline of removing the daemons from the children in order to harness the released energy was very original though and really saved this book for me as well as the concept of crossing into the parallel universe to change the current one. I think I’ll probably give the second book a go just to see what happens next.