The Golden Compass is a fast-paced, action packed fantasy story that I feel like everyone in the world has read before me. If you’re one of the last to read it as I am, here’s what you need to know: Lyra is an orphan living at Jordan college who has a penchant for mischief and lying her way out of,,, well, everything. One day she decides to sneak into the chambers of the college’s council, only men allowed. She just meant to see the room, but gets trapped in there and is forced to hide in an armoire. From there, she hears about something called Dust and hears about “severed children,” though they look quite whole to her. At the same time Lyra learns all of this information, several children go missing in the area, including Lyra’s best friend Roger. These events set in motion a path that leads Lyra north, where she meets new friends and foes, and fights to get her friend back while also trying to get to the bottom of the Dust mystery.
This book has a LOT going on. That up there is the most bare bones plot information, but I didn’t want to spoil any of the major plot points. This is a story with a lot of layers. This is a story of Lyra coming of age and learning the burdens of adulthood. This is a story about adults trying to fix their mistakes through children. This is a story about religious zealotry. This is a story about a talking polar bear. Ok, maybe it’s not *about* him, but he is awesome and deserves his own mention. There are so many plots and themes floating around here, but Pullmans brings them together beautifully.
Lyra is an incredibly engaging protagonist who is both funny and sweet in her innocence. Her lies are extraordinary and I found myself grinning at the tales she told her peers, because who doesn’t remember such situations from their own youth? For the record, I would have been one of the captivated audience members. Such a gullible kid. Anyway, I digress. Lyra is an exceptional character, and even though this is a fantasy story, so many of the aspects of her growing up are universal. This is a really excellent book and I feel like I’m not doing it justice with my rambling, but bottom line: you should read it if you haven’t, there’s something here for everyone.