Actor, Writer, Jedi, Singer,

Actor, Writer, Jedi, Singer,
You were my brother, Anakin. I loved you

Wednesday, November 28, 2012

The Amber Spyglass(along with The Golden Compass and The Subtle Knife) Review

(I'm sorry, but at the moment I can't upload pictures onto my blog. The problem will hopefully be resolved soon*I do know what is causing it*).

       If you pay attention to book controversy, you have most likely heard about Philip Pullman's "His Dark Materials" trilogy which begins with "The Golden Compass." Many rumors and beliefs about what's in this book have been passed around all over the internet and since I've read all three books, I'd like to explain exactly what happened and give you the facts. I'll also be reviewing the books(mostly the third) and giving my thoughts on plot, characters, and word building. (I read the book a few months ago, so it won't be as in depth as my reviews usually are).

Way back when I was twelve, I saw a movie trailer for "The Golden Compass" and since I thought it looked really good, I went and saw it. I absolutely loved the film(since it was about a twelve year old girl who was really cool) and the next day I dressed up as Lyra.
       Since I loved the film, I decided to read the first book. I'd heard about the anti-Christian sentiment that was expressed in this trilogy but I didn't really see it in the first book or the movie that much(but then, I was little, so I should re-read that book). The first book is definitely the strongest in the series- Lyra is a very strong, well done character and her adventures in her alternate-earth world are very exciting. I also liked the idea of the Daemon- basically part of a human's soul in physical form that walks around and talks and the like. The writing was also good and while wordy(for a twelve year old) I enjoyed reading it.

          I had to wait a couple of years to read the second installment "The Subtle Knife" since my dad had read all three books and said that, since there was some innuendo(it was mild) in the books, as well as the anti-Christian content  I should wait a little bit. I think I was either nearly fourteen or I'd just turned fourteen when I read the second book. While I didn't like it as much as the first novel, it was still a good read and the story flowed nicely. Seeing Lyra in our world was interesting and while I found the boy character, Will Parry, to be a little bland, I still liked reading about his story. When I read this book, however, I did see some anti-religion(especially Christianity) sentiment in the book. However, like the knife, it was subtle and not that blatant.

              Now the third book and the most controversial of the trilogy- "The Amber Spyglass". Since I read this one relatively recently(a few months ago), I'll go into more depth on the characters, plot, and such.

The Plot: For the most part, the plot is exciting, especially the land of the dead and the ending fight scene. However, it left a lot to be desired and the climax was just oh, so AWFUL!(I'll get more onto that in a later section). While reading it I was rolling my eyes and thinking "this is so gross!" Also the ending was so contrived and corny- it could have been done so much better.

Characters: Okay, so my number question regarding this is WHAT THE STANG HAPPENED TO LYRA?! In this book(she was sort of this way in book 2) whenever she's around Will she gets so simpering and lame and screams and basically acts like a Lois Lane like character. I mean, I understand she's only twelve and children can't take care of themselves yet but fighting was never what made her cool- it was her attitude and her smarts. And what I found quite funny was when, after her and Will got separated forever in different worlds she went back to being her old self. WHAAT!? It was like she was acting all ditsy on purpose around him just because she was in wuv with him XP. I hate it when girls do that- just act like yourself around the guy you like OKAY!?
          Now onto Will. Well, when he first appeared in book 2, I found him an interesting character. However, when I began book 3, I found him to be a little boring. He had potential, considering his background, but his emotions seemed stilted and fake, especially when it came to killing(you were told he hated it instead of the audience showing us he hated it). He also lacked a personality and seemed to good a fighter for a child which kind of got on my nerves.
        Even Mrs. Coulter was out of character- in the first two books she seemed to hate her daughter but hear she kept on screaming about how much she LOVED her daughter, how she wasn't going to allow anything to happen to her, and blah blah blah. The dialogue, particularly from Mrs. Coulter, was horrendous and didn't sound like anything you'd actually hear in real thing- it was so bad, I actually cringed several times.

 The anti-religious sentiment: Before I start, I will point out that the author definitely has an agenda going on here and that is to promote his point of view. It isn't wrong, he has every right to write a story about his atheist beliefs(a lot of authors put their Christian view heavily into their books so having other books for people who believe differently is a good idea), but the fact that he wrote the book to undermine religion isn't right. While reading, I could definitely tell the author really has chip on his shoulder about religion, especially Christianity. He also seems to have a problem with Catholics, particularly since he names the 'bad' guys(the church) the Magisterium.
            If you have heard of these books' controversy, then you most likely know the problem so many people have with this book- a lot of people think the characters 'kill' God.
Well, I'll say right now that isn't how it all goes down in the novel. Now before you freak out, let me explain somethings about the books' universe- in the beginning, all there was was Dust, a particle that ended up creating life in the void. The 'God' figure was the first being(angel) to come to consciousness; so, when the rest of the angels began forming from the Dust, he told them that he created all of them. After the world was created and the 'God' figure had been ruling for a long while, his Lord Regent took over the cloud citadel, locking up the aging God, taking over and ruling cruelly(the 'God' figure was a good being and was a whole lot kinder then the newer guy).
              Fast forward to the time of Lyra and Will- Lyra's father, Lord Asriel(along with Mrs. Coulter who has switched sides, and his army) is fighting against Metatron, the Lord Regent. He and Mrs. Coulter end up taking on the Lord Regent  and dragging him down with them into a bottomless pit so they could protect Lyra, Will, and their Daemons as well as the world.
What happened to the God figure? Well, The Lord Regent had sent him away so he could kill him later after he won the battle. Well, the beings that had been carrying him in a big, ball-shaped prison, were killed in the battle and the prison was left alone in the middle of the battleground. Lyra and Will came across it while they were running through the battlefield and they took pity on the worn, ancient looking being. They tried to help him to safety by opening his prison and getting him out but as he stepped out, the wind swept him back into dust since he was so old(in the story, when you die*after they got released from the land of the dead* you dissipate into atoms and float around the worlds). In the book, it says that he had a peaceful, almost relieved, look on his face as he rejoined the Dust.
So there you have it- all of that didn't bother me too much(since it was so alien from what Christianity is actually like) but make of it what you will. What do you think about all of that? I'd love to hear opinions. :)
              The main anti-religious thing that got on my nerves the most was, in fact, Mary Malone, the Nun turned chemist. The story she told Lyra and Will about how she lost her faith was so lame. It really takes a lot to change your mind on such a large and personal matter so her reason was so, so dumb. Her reasoning was this- when she was twelve she got all romancy with this guy at a party and she went out with him and such. After becoming a Nun, she was at a conference and while talking to a guy across the table whom she felt attracted to, she ate a food that reminded her of the guy she had liked and immediately lost her faith. I can get that having an affect on her not wanting to be a nun anymore but loosing your faith just because you felt an attraction? No, that wouldn't happen, it would take something huge since she had been so invested in it before that.

The worst part of the book- the romance: Remember when I said above that I'd talk about why the climax was so terrible? Well the reasoning all ties into the romance between Lyra and Will- they save the universe by, basically, making out(and no, I'm not joking). Throughout the trilogy, we are told that Lyra is going to be the new Eve and she will either save the world or have them 'Fall' again. However, we never really get what her choice was or how her being all kissy saved the universe. I mean, come on, how lame is THAT?! The climax really disgusted me and I'd have to say, it was definitely one of the worst I've come across in a long while.
            The romance itself was also terrible- the two characters are TWELVE and they're all "I love you!" "I have to be with your forever!";  plus they're making out and it's so gross! I don't mind of twelve year olds like someone, that is normal, but I really, really don't want to read about twelve-year old children making out(even though they probably do that in real life*shudders*). This is definitely one of the worst romances I've ever read- it was too sappy, too abrupt, and really badly written(horrendous dialogue again). Please Mr. Pullman, go read Jude Watson's Star Wars books or watch Once Upon A Time to get a good idea how to write this stuff well.
            One thing that was a little freaky was how they kind of had Lyra experience an 'awakening' where she 'BOOM' suddenly is ready for intimacy(the wording was kind of filled with innuendo). Seriously, the girl is twelve, not sixteen- I wouldn't think she'd be thinking/feeling like that at her age(when I was twelve I was too busy playing Robin Hood, writing books, and acting in plays, plus I hated romance) but then, I could be wrong, since children start dating at around that age sometimes.

Thank you for reading my review; sorry it was so shoddily done, I just wanted to get this out here. :)


  1. I quite enjoyed the first, and the second as well. Though i did notice the odd way Lyra was behaving, I thought that Lyra acted differently around Will Parry due to his lack of any daemon, not because she had feelings for him, and got completely sidelined when in the third book they had instant love. He actually seemed somewhat frightened of her as well, because what's normal for her is really strange to him, which I thought would be an accurate way of seeing someone who had just stepped out of another universe. I was very disappointed by the third book in the trilogy, since it seemed as if all the characters were just being forced into the roles that the author wanted them to play... it didn't seem to correlate well with the other two books at all, like you said. I think that the writer was trying to write romance, but not doing a good job, like you said. His problem was that he was forcing his characters (which were strong people on their own) to act OUT OF CHARACTER, and so the relationship between Will and Lyra seems strange, because that's something these characters would NEVER do. Nice review... I thought that you looked at the good/bad aspects in a very balanced way.

    1. Very good points, I agree. I was disappointed since I'd loved the first two so much.
      Thank you, glad you liked it :)