Authors: Philip Pullman
Release Date: October 23rd, 1998 (originally 1995)
Publisher: Scholastic Point
Pages: 399 (Paperback)
Genre: Children | Fantasy
Series: His Dark Materials #1
Read: from July 27 to August 9 , 2015
Source & Shelf: Gift | Shelves
ISBN: 9780590660549 (Paperback)
When Lyra’s friend Roger disappears, she and her dæmon, Pantalaimon, determine to find him.
The ensuing quest leads them to the bleak splendour of the North, where armoured bears rule the ice and witch-queens fly through the frozen skies – and where a team of scientists is conducting experiments too horrible to be spoken about.
Lyra overcomes these strange terrors, only to find something yet more perilous waiting for her – something with consequences which may even reach beyond the Northern Lights…
It took me almost forever to finish this book. Not because I wasn’t exactly enjoying it but because I was expecting to be blown away by it and ended up not being totally amazed. Sure, I already knew part of the story due to Chris Weitz movie adaptation but I was still waiting for something quite grand. The only way to describe this book is a simple enjoyable reading that is indeed fantastic but not overwhelming.
One of my main issues with this book was the writing. It took me a while to manage to go with the flow. It almost felt as if the English wasn’t quite right. And that for a foreign person, even a foreign one who can read almost everything in English, can be tricky. Some of the descriptions were so complicated to even picture exactly because of how it was written. But the moment I got used to the writing, I managed to actually enjoy the book.
Other issue I had was Lyra. I remembered from when I saw the movie that she was quite a stubborn and feisty character, too curious and reckless but also brave. But in the book there were moments when her recklessness bordered the rudeness and I ended up not enjoying her character that much. However, her relationship with her daemon Pantalaimon and her determination to help Roger and find her father was quite beautiful to read, inspirational even at times.
The story gets complicated as it goes and there are still a few things left to be explained and questions to be answered. The whole concept of daemons and Dust is still quite confusing to me though I guess that daemons are like our souls and you can’t really sever the bond between ourselves and our souls – which is exactly what the Gobblers are doing in this book. Still there wasn’t much explanations about why and how they got their daemons and what exactly is Dust. I got a few things like Dust is the reason a human grows to be sinful and all and it has a religious side to it, but I am still slightly not sure if I had grasped the whole concept. Maybe they did explained it but I still don’t understand it.
Though this book is rated as a “children’s” book, I think that some of the politics and scientific explanations won’t be understood by the supposed “children”. Even I had troubles grasping the idea of college and all the ranks and names. Not to mention that certain scenes in this book are perhaps a little too explicit. The death of a character almost at the end was quite gruesome to read even for me. And a child won’t understand the whole sinful idea of Dust for a while. The religious part of the book will, perhaps, be too complex for a child to fully understand.
However, this book also had its positive things. For instance, I really liked Pantalaimon’s character a lot though he’s still a daemon. He is part of Lyra but perhaps he’s the reasonable side of her. The gypsies were a group of people I enjoyed reading about and hope to read more in the continuation. And, of course, the witches. I had hoped for a bigger role for Seraphina in the book since (and I know I shouldn’t do this) I loved the way Eva Green portrayed her in the movie. And there’s still a lot to know about the witches’ politics and way of life and I’m looking forward to know more. Again, I hope there’ll be more of her and her daemon, plus the rest of her race, in the next books.
Northern Lights was, overall, an enjoyable read though slow in the begin. I am curious about the next books in the trilogy but not exactly too eager to pick them up. Still, quite an entertaining book with, and I admit, a great sort-of steampunk alternate universe (the visual adaptation of the world was on point in my humble opinion). But, as I mentioned, it kind of disappointed my high expectations.