This is my second time reading this book and, just like the first time I read it, I’m conflicted about it.
For the first half of the book I find the protagonist, Lyra Belacqua, obnoxious and unrelatable. I’m not a fan of the precocious child protagonist archetype. Maybe if I had read this as a kid and wasn’t looking at her through adult eyes it might be different. Once Lyra begins her quest to find her friend, Roger, and take the alethiometer to her father, I enjoy the plot and the characters more. Lyra suddenly settles down and doesn’t come off as such a brat.
The other issue I have is the violence against children on behalf of adults. I don’t enjoy this trope ESPECIALLY in a book that’s marketed for kids. Most of the kids in this book are between 10-13. The experiences they have at the hands of adults is truly traumatic. I don’t find it entertaining or engaging. For this reason, I’m glad I first read the book as an adult. It gave a better perspective from which to process what happens to Lyra and Roger.
Finally, I have issue with some of the craft in the books. Too often Mr. Pullman tells and doesn’t show us about this fantasy world he’s created. Particularly when it comes to daemons and how people relate to them. He tells us all of the rules of the world and how someone should never touch anyone’s daemon or how horrific it is to see someone without his/her daemon. The problem is this style doesn’t create any empathy and the moments in which we should be feeling disgust or empathy because some breaks the daemon rules, the moment falls flat.
Overall, I enjoyed reading the book when I finally sat down and read this in big chunks rather than pacing it out. I rarely say this but I thought the 2019 HBO adaptation did an AMAZING job. So if you’re looking for a book/film adaptation, then this would be a good choice.