Sunday, December 5, 2010

Book Review: The Golden Compass by Philip Pullman

by Philip Pulman


In a landmark epic of fantasy and storytelling, Philip Pullman invites readers into a world as convincing and thoroughly realized as Narnia, Earthsea, or Redwall. 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 compass of the title. 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.


NOTE:I'm trying not to spoil everybody else with this review

This book was recommended to me by a classmate who I used to call 
Rukawabecause of his anime-like looks. And a goodreads friend told me that this book is Emma Watson’s favorite. Well, since I have crush on her, I expected this to be good—hoping her taste for books would be the same as mine.

My friends were ranting about this book. They were even sounded crazy while they were chatting about this book. So I tried to find a copy of this in bookstores just to feed up my curiosity and enviousness. But because of their praises, I was sure then that I wouldn’t like this because oftentimes, when people rant about the greatness of the book, it tends me to have high expectations that even the previous books I’ve rated 5-star couldn’t reach this new standard. But guess what? I’ve enjoyed reading the book so much that I even forgot to greet my friend who celebrated her birthday.

There are quite few books that could sustain thrill from first page till the last. And believe me, this book is one of that few. When one of the major secrets revealed in the first half, I thought that was all. I thought the rest part would just be plain and boring—what else would happen if the major secret was given in early then? I thought there were neither twists nor revelations I would read after that chapter, but believe me again, there were many secrets to be revealed and puzzle to be solved till the end. This is really an original piece of literature. It would be cliché to say that this is a page-turner piece of literature, but, yeah it is.

I would have given this a 5-star rating—meaning amazing—if the below reasons I didn’t notice. This book would have notched down the other books I’ve considered on my top list 

The first three chapters of book were slightly disappointing. The places, persons, things, races, etc. were all popping out at once in a conversation. And it took me to shake my head in confusion and resulted to ignore them instead (not knowing that all of those information were important to be memorized). But how, when all of those things simultaneously exploded like a bomb and left your memory with nothing instead? It was really annoying that I had to run back my fingers with that chapter just to recall something that mentioned in the page I was currently reading.

I’m not a wizard when it comes to grammar but this isn’t the right book for you if you’re sensitive with grammatical errors because there aren’t many here... there are countless of them.

I am told that this book is banned, and that's because of manipulation of the Genesis’s story of Adam and Eve. When I reached that part, well, I wasn’t shocked because I expected that. And I ignored it. But after that, these phrases really disturbed me, a lot:
…it should read not ‘unto dust shalt though return’ but ‘thou shalt be subject to dust’…
…it really means God’s admitting his own nature to be party sinful…
…that’s why the particles known as dust…

Well, being a Christian, I’m quite nosy when it comes to this. But I would have ignored these things if the book’s target market isn't 
children. You would say I am underestimating the knowledge and interpretation of children. I’m afraid to admit... Yes! Look, when you were a child and watched spiderman, you imagined you could crawl onto the ceiling and could conjure spider silk. When you watched Cinderella, you thought there was really prince like Cinderella’s Prince Charming. When you watched superman, you thought you were a mermaid--no, idiot! you thought you could fly, right? Kill me if you haven’t done those weirdness when you were a child. (Click herefor you to know what I mean.) And when a child read this book, I doubt if he/she won't give any attention with this foul interpretation.

Since this is a children’s book, this should contain things that must have moral lessons and teachings, not things that could avert the divine beliefs.
The worst part of all, I’m craving for the next book. :P