I’ve had this book on my shelf for quite a while and I finally started reading it in the middle of the semester. Unfortunately, it got put on the back burner because school assignments took precedence. But now that school is over, I finally finished it!
Summary: Lyra lives in a world similar to ours; however, each human has a daemon, an inseparable companion–more like a manifestation of their own soul–that takes the form of an animal. When a mysterious group of people known as the Gobblers starts snatching children and kidnaps her friend, Roger, Lyra and her daemon go to rescue him. Before she leaves, a scholar gives her an instrument known as the alethiometer, which will always tell her the truth, if she can figure out how to use it. With the help of the alethiometer, a group of nomads, a warrior bear, and a Texan with a hot air balloon, Lyra heads to the northern wilderness to save Roger and the other children from the Gobblers.
Likes: This story was very original and had a very compelling mythology. The author introduced a lot of interesting plot developments and mysteries that made me want to keep reading. The world was also very richly built, which is very important in any fantasy book.
Dislikes: Towards the end, the book became very religious. This isn’t a problem, as I’m very interested in religion and theology. However, the religious symbolism did not work with some of the world building. I can’t really go into too much more detail than that without giving away huge spoilers, but I’m more than happy to discuss it, if anyone wants to. Ultimately, many of the elements of the book which intrigued me initially boiled down to fit into this ill-fitting religious symbolism, which I found a little dissatisfying.
TL;DR: A very complex and rich fantasy story, but filled with religious symbolism that didn’t really work for me in particular. May not be appropriate for younger children, as there are a couple incredibly violent scenes towards the end.