Title: Northern Lights, The Subtle Knife, and The Amber Spyglass
Author: Philip Pullman
Genre: Young Adult, Fantasy, Steampunk
Length: 423, 352, 560
Rating: 3.5 Star average
Here lives an orphaned ward named Lyra Belacqua, whose carefree life among the scholars at Oxford’s Jordan College is shattered by the arrival of two powerful visitors. First, her fearsome uncle, Lord Asriel, appears with evidence of mystery and danger in the far North, including photographs of a mysterious celestial phenomenon called Dust and the dim outline of a city suspended in the Aurora Borealis that he suspects is part of an alternate universe. He leaves Lyra in the care of Mrs. Coulter, an enigmatic scholar and explorer who offers to give Lyra the attention her uncle has long refused her. In this multilayered narrative, however, nothing is as it seems. Lyra sets out for the top of the world in search of her kidnapped playmate, Roger, bearing a rare truth-telling instrument, the alethiometer. All around her children are disappearing—victims of so-called “Gobblers”—and being used as subjects in terrible experiments that separate humans from their daemons, creatures that reflect each person’s inner being. And somehow, both Lord Asriel and Mrs. Coulter are involved.
Review – MAY CONTAIN SPOILERS
I was going to review each of these books separately, they all cover completely different things in their stories since they all take place in separate worlds, but I realised I just straight up don’t have that much to say about any of them all by themselves. I also had one of resolutions that I would do short ones or group reviews on things so that this remains fun for me so this seems like a good place to start.
This first part will be a more overall discussion of the stories without revealing any of the plot points, but after I shall go into more details about things and those who do not want to be spoiled will have to give the second half a miss.
In terms of writing for this book I both loved and hated it. I really liked the descriptiveness of some things and I was really getting into the pictures that were being painted of the world. But then the descriptions didn’t stop, and they went on and on about things that didn’t need to be talked about. I am talking pages of useless description and all of a sudden my nice pictures in my head were covered in words like flies. Then of course there were things I actually wanted them to explain but of course that didn’t happen.
I also found there were a quite a lot of throw away characters and the ones that were not throw away, I found most of them didn’t have much depth to them. The one I thought had the most depth had to probably Lyra, who I actually liked as a character. She had spunk and was not afraid to stand up for herself, but most of all she seemed to learn from the mistakes she made along the way. I also really loved her and Pan’s relationship. I think I liked all the daemon/human relationships. They were the strongest. The next surprisingly would have to be Lord Asriel and Mrs. Coulter. At first I hated them both then all of a sudden there was a switch and the feelings I had for them were not so clear. Mrs. Coulter was the most surprising in the sense she was a gradual and I didn’t expect to have my feeling son her altered, but Lord Asriel was more of sudden switch and I didn’t really get it. I don’t know if I missed a part that had altered things or if I just didn’t understand him from the start.
I know that to some this is considered a childrens books, but I don’t really understand it. If I was not completely paying attention to the ramble, then I missed some complicated political thing that was happening or was being explained and I just don’t see how that is entertaining to or even understandable to kids. I suppose this ‘childrens book’ label can be used as an excuse for the simplicity of the characters, but I don’t really want to let it have that excuse. To me this was a YA book series.
Beyond this point is the more spoiler ridden section of the review, so if you are leaving me here I would give this series a miss if I could go back in time and tell myself my own thoughts. However, so may people rave about this book, so perhaps at the very least don’t do it in audio book.
Ok, can we talk about the huge religious element in this book. It was basically the entire plot and they went on and on about it all the time. That dust was religious and created by original sin, and they were in war with angels and God, have to say was probably the second big downfall for me next to the over description. I felt like I was being preached to in the most complicated way possible. The plot got so jumbled I really had no idea what side I was supposed to be leaning towards or anything. Really it was just very frustrating. It might not have been so bad if it just didn’t keep going on and on.
I also thought the end of the book was a bit sad. I felt horribly for them both, I wont say who, but I liked the book just a bit more because of it because it didn’t go with the standard every book has to have a happy ending. The ending was sad but it left room for hope of happiness.
So yes, again I would not read these books again. There were things I liked, some of the settings sounded amazing and I adored the whole daemon/spirit/soul thing and wish I could learn to see my own, but the writing, the depthless characters, and the overall lack of enjoyment in the driving plot, which by the way doesn’t come up until the second book, just was not doing it for me. Unless you know someone else who you trust their opinion on books and they suggest this series to you, I wouldn’t recommend this book to anyone.
Till Next Time…