The Golden Compass

Philip Pullman
The Golden Compass Cover

Compelling for all Ages


I have learned long ago that I enjoy books for the quality of the material and that I shouldn't discriminate based on the intended audience of the book. His Dark Materials Book One-The Golden Compass, by Philip Pullman is an excellent example of a fantasy novel created for young adults that transcends that category. In my opinion this Young Adult category, in its best sense, means that foul language and sexual content have been eliminated from the story. Although I enjoy a little foul language every once in a while I notice no lack in a novel when it is absent.

This novel follows a young scamp of a girl through a world that is very similar to our nineteenth century world. Lyra resides, as an orphan, at Oxford and is thrust, through her own intense curiosity, into a religious and metaphysical maze of treachery. Gradually she is able to piece together answers to a number of strange occurrences that include disappearing children and a beautiful woman with a golden monkey. You see, there is at least one big difference in this world. People have physical representations of their souls, called deamons. While children have deamons that are able to change form at their whim, adults have deamons in a fixed form. This is at the heart the novel and allows Lyra to finally begin to uncover what a mysterious substance, called Dust, really is.

Philip Pullman pulls the reader into this piece through a fantastic portrayal and adventure of a young girl that one can easily relate to amidst the strange world that she lives. I was enthralled throughout the whole book as I could never begin to guess what would happen next. The flaws in each character give this story something to sink your teeth into and allow you to truly engross yourself in this tantalizing world. One thing that intrigued me was the idea of a physical soul. Each character seems to have a deep and affectionate bond with their deamons, but I can't help but wonder what would happen to a person filled with self-loathing.