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 alethiometer. 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.
I was very surprised by how intrigued I was by this book. It is by no means simplified and dumbed down for children. It is a complex work of literature where you can pull any meaning out of any paragraph and make it work. It’s full of metaphorical possibilities.
Though many people say this book is “christian fiction” and akin to Narnia, I just read it for enjoyment and didn’t think of jesus once. The one thing that struck me out the most is that Lyra’s curiosity made me curious as well. She’s just a child, and does get into trouble, but from the very beginning you love her and want to see the best for her.
The only reason I gave it 4 stars instead of 5 is because the book didn’t WOW me. I didn’t expect it to, being a children’s book and all. So yeah. It’s still a really good read for right before bed time.
I do plan on reading the second book, The Subtle Knife, in the near future. I just have to get through these library books first XD