Guest Blogger: Ms. Dollard
Good question! For the first book in the series (of three books total) Lyra, the main character, is in her own world in her own present, but the world seems to be antiquated compared to our modern world today. The second book in the series, however, confirms that the setting is modern day because another character from our modern world meets up with Lyra in another world.
The first book takes place by Jordan College in Oxford, but the setting transitions to other places in Lyra’s world as she accomplishes her mission.
What would you rate this book: 5 out of 5 Stars
In addition to this book being a page-turner because of constant action and change and mystery, the representation of what it means to become an adult is fascinating. I love that adults are not praised just because they’re adults. Additionally, the use of daemons to show this process of growing up is brilliant. The daemons, or “spirit animals” representing a human’s soul, are mutable as children, just as children are malleable and open to new ideas and experiences. As they age, however, the daemons become fixed into one form, solidifying that person’s soul into one being. Pullman uses other fantasy elements, like the daemons, of the world he created to help represent truths we hold about not just adulthood, but also about science and religion and morals.
Have you ever wondered what your “spirit animal” would be? Well, in this series, everyone in Lyra’s world has a “spirit animal” of sorts, or a “daemon”, that is somehow representative of your own soul. In this series, you will lose touch with reality as you encounter not only daemons, but witches and a magical universal force that is studied and yet not understood. Lyra goes on a quest of sorts with a tool at her side, an alethiometer, or “golden compass”, which helps her escape the “Gobblers” that prey on young children, try to resist them, and find her father at long last. Enticing Passage:
“‘Never! Never! Never!’ she cried, and backed against the wall to defend him to their death. But they fell on her again, three big brutal men, and she was only a child, shocked and terrified; and they tore Pantalaimon away, and threw her into one side of the cage of mesh…”
Anyone who loves fantasy and also anyone who loves questioning authority would love this novel. In it, Lyra struggles to question the people that you’re supposed to love and obey: her parents. Additionally, her own parents are rebelling against the most powerful organization that controls Lyra’s world, the Magisterium. There is a strong message to resist, a message with which many readers can identify.
Want to make a recommendation?
* Carnegie Library of Pittsburgh's Young Adult Booklists
* New York Times Books Section (links to their Best Seller Lists)
* YALSA Book Awards & Booklists
* YALSA's Teens' Top Ten