The Golden Compass by Philip Pullman
My rating: 4 of 5 stars
I think I might have been a bit unfair to the book in my original review. Or maybe I was a bit disgruntled with YA literature in general at the time. Or maybe I was getting tired of the whole chosen one with the miraculous oracle bit driving the plot forward.
But let's back up a bit here. In the particulars, I liked running around like an urchin. I did like all the Daemons. I liked growing up among all the academics. I liked running around and being a very English nuisance and getting involved very civilly with evil folks and right proper decent parliamentary folk.
And what could be better than to top it all off with a trip to the north where all the Scandinavians are! Um, I mean bears. And witches. And evil research facilities that OUGHT to have been where Santa's elves made some non-dusty toys.
Yeah, it was pretty entertaining. Very quick-paced. Somewhat annoyingly light on the character-building so everyone seems like pieces on a big game board with a big narrator pushing them around by a rather cool compass... but okay for all that.
I guess I tended to remember this book in a slightly lesser light than it really deserves, considering how many YA novels are like it these days.
After reading the first nine-tenths of the novel, I was expecting nothing other than a YA adventure novel. When I finished it, I saw the interesting bits finally come alive. The writing is smooth and the characters, while rather one-sided and painted with broad strokes, works well here. I can't complain, because most book's characters rather fall into the same category and so I must focus on ideas and how those ideas are pulled off. The locales are charming, and even though we're missing some depth, it's to be expected by the type of the novel it is. I did find myself wanting the viewpoints of the parents more than our lovely silver-tongued liar, but I think this is just my own frantic desire for understanding a character's psychology. Good book, and I'm looking forward to more adventure.
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