English Q1 BM: Book Review for The Golden Compass

The author of this splendid book is Philip Pullman. He is an excellent author who won awards for his series trilogy of “His Dark Materials”. He was born in the town of Norwich, England in 1946. He taught english at Oxford Middle Schools for a while until he went on to teach at Westminster College. He tries to write stories that can grab readers attention, but most of his reader are pre-teen and teen. Philip Pullman also wrote other fantastic stories like book 2 and 3 of his trilogy of His Dark Material, Puss in Boots, The Broken Bridge, and The Butterfly Tattoo. The book that I’m doing this book review on is his first book from his award winning series. The Golden Compass is a book that takes you back to the era similar to the Victorian Era that occurred in England; an era where the church rules everything and there are scholars and students who attend Universities. Lyra, a young girl who lives in the university with her daemon, Pantalaimon, likes to lurk around the university and nearby towns. One day, her uncle, an important man, has came to the university to talk to the headmaster and other scholars about a discovery that he had uncovered in this journey in the great North. Then Lyra saved her uncle from being killed by an attempted assassination. Saving her uncle was just the beginning of the chains of many tortuous and dangerous events that Lyra will experience later in the book.  She went through many hardships during some events and also found herself in danger. Events like getting abducted by a lady that commits hideous acts, traveling to the great north with Egyptians to save children from being severed, or risking her life to save her friend’s life. During this grand journey, Lyra has found her talent and unique qualities, qualities that she would soon use to unlock key information that relates to the rescue of these children. Lyra, who is intelligent, brave, and adventurous, has gone through a journey that will change and influenced her life.  

The structure of this book is like any other book, the story has an uphill part which leads to the climax, and then the downhill. The Golden Compass did a great job of grabbing the readers attention on the very first page. Throughout the book, the author used lots of figurative language and adjectives that gives off lots of imagery, which grabs readers attention and makes books more interesting to read. The type of speech that he included in this book caught my attention as well. The speech matches the context of the story and its plot. Since this book has a setting similar to the Victorian Era, the author has carefully set this type of language back into the story to help the readers be aware of the time period that the setting is in. The idea that this book explored was the idea of mixing the Victorian Era and its complex language with a genre like science fiction. This kind of mixture for an idea of book is difficult. Something that happened in the past is really difficult to mix with the idea of futuristic and fantasy ideas (just thinking about it is impossible) but somehow this book had succeed on something that I  assumed to be impossible. This book includes description of the past, but adds futuristic things in its context. For example, a city in the aurora borealis is an example of science fiction that exist in this book. Philip Pullman did a fantastic job writing this book because he has fused two different kinds of genre into one book that’s enjoyable to pre-teens and teens.

The areas in the book where expectations were exceeded was how descriptive it is. While writing this book, the author did a stupendous job being descriptive with all of the action that is occurring in the book. One example was the in the beginning, when Lyra and Pantalaimon was sneaking around the Master’s meeting room. He gave us a very illustrative description that makes us have the feeling of actually being there with Lyra sneaking in the room with her. Other than being descriptive, the book exceeds my expectations by not making the introduction into the setting of the story long. In other books that I have read they took time describing the world that the story takes place. Meanwhile, this book provides us with little context of where the setting of the story is, and instead went straight into the rich details of the action that occurred in the book. The part in the book that fell short of my expectations is at the very end. At the end of the book they left us with a question that I felt remained unanswered. This question I think is not going to be answered until the second book. This question is about the relationship between Lord Asriel (Lyra’s “uncle”) and Miss Coulter (random woman).  The author made a mistake of not being descriptive enough when explaining about the relationship of Lord Asriel and Miss Coulter. There has to be something important about their relationship that Philip Pullman did not describe enough to let me understand why that would lead to the event in the story. The age groups that I think would love this book are kids ages 11-16 because kids at this age would like to read something that is fantasized into a world where there is danger because they love books that have danger, suspense and drama. The reason why older adults wouldn’t like this book is because this illustrates fantasized characters that exists in books for little kids. Characters like witches and talking animals are considered to be little kids favorite characters. But Philip Pullman does such a superb job in coordinating these fantasized characters into a book where it is enjoyed by pre-teen and teenage kids.

  • Book Title: The Golden Compass (His Dark Materials: Book 1)

  • Author: Philip Pullman

  • Publisher: Yearling

  • Date of Publication: May 2001

  • Number of Pages: 399 pages

  • Genre: Science Fiction