As an orphan living in Jordan College, Oxford, Lyra Belacqua spends her days exploring with her best friend Roger and the other children. When her uncle returns from his travels in the North, Lyra spies on his conversation with the brothers at the college and learns about Dust and of a parallel world in the North. Shortly after her uncle leaves again, Lyra is taken in by a woman named Mrs. Coulter as an assistant. But what Lyra first believes to be the best thing to happen to her quickly turns into a harrowing journey to find her uncle and give him a gift presented to her by the Master of Jordan college: an alethiometer which she believes will not only save her uncle, but the missing children taken by the Gobblers.
Earlier this year I had been disappointed by other young adult novels that I had left sitting on my ‘to be read’ shelf for years on end, so I was a bit hesitant to dive into The Golden Compass. However, within the first few pages I was hooked. Pullman has an impressive way of telling a story: he makes every character interesting and only provides the reader with so much information so they want to continue on to find out what happens next. He also writes great action sequences, which is good because there were numerous battles between all different types of races and creatures.
One aspect of the book that I didn’t like was the fact that it took so long for Pullman to say what the daemons were. By time he really described them I managed to figure it out for myself, but I would have liked to know a little more about them in the beginning of the story rather than halfway through. Lyra also began to annoy me a bit toward the end of the book mostly for the way she talked. I hadn’t noticed it earlier (and maybe it wasn’t there), but toward the end I felt like she started talking more like an adult and calling everyone ‘dear’. While this would make sense because she would have developed over her harrowing journey, I just found it weird and didn’t think it fit with her personality. I also thought she took way too much into her own hands throughout the book: doing too many tasks without letting anyone else know, which could have led to big consequences later if she failed.
However, these were only small annoyances that were easy to get over so I was able to enjoy The Golden Compass. I think it’s a great story for both children and adults, and I have been considering continuing on with the trilogy to discover how the rest of Lyra’s story plays out.