- Page Count: 399
- Release Date: April 6, 1996
- My Rating: 5 stars
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 hadn’t read this since elementary school and am so glad I took the time to come back to it! I don’t know that it would be a full 5 stars if I just picked it up today, but we’re going with 5 out of nostalgia.
Lyra was one of my favorite characters as a kid and is still just as fierce & wonderful as I remember. Actually, I’m surprised by how well I remember the whole story. Maybe it’s because the characters and world are so strong, or maybe it’s because the movie follows the book SO well. Seriously, the movie is the same story all the way up until… that whole new ending it wrote to be kid-friendly and shut the story down.
I don’t know if I adored this book as a kid because of the polar bears and snowy world or if that’s actually what led to my love for those types of settings, but it’s completely gorgeous. Ok, wait… I’m starting to question the origins of a lot of things I love right now. I genuinely think this story started my obsession with Oxford, too.
Anyways, the whole concept with Dust is so creative and I LOVE every single character. This is one of those stories any age can appreciate! I’m not sure how much Catholics would love the thinly-veiled comments on the Church here, but I still don’t think it’s too mature for kids.