Sunday, November 25, 2007

The Golden Compass

The Golden Compass by Philip Pullman

I normally refuse to buy books with the movie poster cover or big shiny stickers that say "Don't Miss the Blockbuster..." but I read this because it looked like a cool movie... who can argue with giant armored polar bears? The book and its author also seem to be in the top 3 things to chat about over on LibraryThing as well, and who doesn't love a good religious zealot/banned books debate?

It appears these books (this is #1 of a trilogy) are not only an imaginative fantasy adventure for kids but an attack on the concept of God and a call to destroy all organized religion. Oooh-kay. I have not read any of the details, but it appears Mr. Pullman is outspoken and controversial and has raised the ire of a few special interest groups.

That being said, this is a cool book, with giant armored polar bears! There is magic, witches, gypsies, creepily suspicious adults, castles, zeppelins, and heroic children, all thrown at the reader at a frenetic pace. It does get a little talky attempting to explain details, and the ending was not enough of an end for me, but as part of an ubiquitous series, the cliffhanger aspect should be expected.

It's a thick book, lots to get through, but it would still work well for a reader wanting to take his/her time. Ages 10 - 14. More advanced readers could certainly find a lot to discuss from the religious tones, but for the most part kids are going to read this as Fantasy and will really dig the daemons, as well as identifying with Lyra.

I guess I should start focusing on themes and stuff like that... friendship? honor and trust? bravery? any suggestions...?

postscript 12.03 --Here is a well written and seemingly unbiased article on Pullman and the controversy surrounding his writing and views...


Slim said...

I got an email at work today that was mass emailed by someone within my agency cautioning people and telling them not to take their children to see this movie because the author's intent was to kill God in the eyes of little children blah blah blah.

My response: Sounds very interesting! I think I'll go see it! :-)

I now intend to read it and will get back to you on themes...

JK said...

That "theme" doesn't come up in this book, I think it must be a focus of #3... I don't remember issues of God or church, or maybe they just went over my head as i was trippin' on the armored polar bears...

Carrie said...

Hey, thanks for your recent comments on my blog. I popped over to see what you've been up to! =D I think the themes are there, but from the movie aspect, there's a lot of talk of how they toned down the message of the book for the first movie. If they go on to make books 2 and 3 out of the books, there is an intent to make the message more bold.

Or so the story goes.

At any rate, thanks for your comments.

Slim said...

Read it. Loved it. Of course, I generally enjoy the fantasy genre. I already have The Subtle Knife and The Amber Spyglass on loan from the library and can't wait to read them.

Here's a theme: female strength. Lyra is one heck of a smart girl who stands up to adversity despite pretty scary circumstances. Or, connection with others despite differences in culture and values (i.e. humans (gypsy and non-gypsy), witches, polar bears, etc.)

Just a couple suggestions. Oh, and the article was great, thanks.