Friday, September 26, 2014

Review: Northern Lights by Philip Pullman

Title: Northern Lights (His Dark Materials #1)
Author: Philip Pullman
Genre: Young Adult, Fantasy

When Lyra's friend Roger disappears, she and her daemon, Pantalaimon, determine to find him. The ensuing quest leads them into the bleak splendour of the North, where armoured bears rule the ice and witch-queens fly through the frozen skies.
Review by Nara

*Note: this is going to be a relatively unstructured review with no proper paragraphing and such*

I actually first read Northern Lights/The Golden Compass quite some time ago (possibly primary school) and I remember enjoying it somewhat, but not really liking it that much overall.
Well, clearly my tastes have changed, because damn, this was a good book.

I think it's mostly the fact that the pace of this book is relatively slow that I previously didn't enjoy it (curse my younger impatient self).
The "action scenes" really seem to last only a few paragraphs, and the rest of the book is mostly world building and character development. Or just people walking around or talking.
But where this might have annoyed me in other books (*cough Fellowship cough*), it actually wasn't a bad thing in Northern Lights. It's really the sort of book that calls for conversations and planning more than definitive action- a book that effectively sets up the premise for the rest of the trilogy, but does so without boring.

While there is indeed this slow pace, there are plenty of mysteries seeded here and there which keep you turning the pages. Who are these "Gobblers" and why are they kidnapping children? What is this mysterious "Dust"? Where is Lyra's uncle going? Who exactly is Mrs. Coulter?
And, of course, we meet a multitude of interesting characters including an air balloonist, an armoured bear and a witch queen. Each of these minor-ish characters is nonetheless quite well developed, and I definitely look forward to seeing what sorts of roles they'll play in future books (I have actually read the whole trilogy, but this was aaaaages ago and my memory now fails me...)

And to end, SOMEONE GET ME A DAEMON I WANT ONE. In case you don't know what a daemon is, basically:
1. It's an animal companion.
2. It's an animal but has the intelligence of a human.
3. It's basically a fragment of your soul.
4. It would be your best friend ever, meaning you would never really be lonely.
5. They can change to whatever animal form when you're younger, but eventually become static- and this final adult form reflects your personality/nature.
So yes. Clearly everyone needs one, and someone needs to make it happen.

Really liked it

Overall: 8/10
Plot: 4/5
Writing: 4/5
World Building: 3.5/5
Characters: 4/5
Cover: 3/5