Woo! After having this on my shelf for over 10 years, I finally finished The Golden Compass, by Philip Pullman. I've tried reading this book a few times since my Uncle gave it to me as a gift in the 7th grade, but could never quite get past the first chapter. I think it's because I hated the word "daemon." You know how some people hate the word "moist?" Well, I have that reaction to "daemon."
So I finally plucked it off my shelf because I knew I'd have to read it eventually, it being on The List and all. I almost had a heart attack when I double checked The List halfway through and couldn't find the book anywhere. Turns out, The List has it by its European title Northern Lights and I wasn't reading this book in vain. But the heart attack seemed justified because recently every book I've started to read thinking that it absolutely had to be on The List, I'd find out later that I was completely wrong. It's been pretty upsetting, especially since I'd been basing my assumptions off of fellow librarian and librarian wannabes' recommendations for great children's books. And the books they're recommending are great and should certainly be included over some not-so-great-and-highly-overrated (*cough*Love You Forever) books that are included. But that's a rant for another day.
I liked this book. Had I possessed the strength to get over my hatred for the word "daemon," I might have really loved this series as a child. Anyway, the story is incredibly complex, but basically involves a girl trying to save a bunch of children from the wicked things that adults do. Pretty simple premise buried incredibly deep in a complicated, well-organized world Pullman creates. It can get pretty dull and/or confusing at times, or maybe I was just too focused on judging the people around me who were judging me for reading The Golden Compass in public. But aside from the dull moments, there's a ton of adventure and some pretty witty badass remarks from the heroine (Girl Power! woo!). It's definitely capable of being a boys book even though boys stereotypically stay away from anything featuring girl characters or written by female authors (which is why J.K. Rowling used initials). How could anyone not love a heroine who can come up with this blatant lie about her father to avoid a probable child molester:
"'I told you, he's a murderer. It's his profession. He's doing a job tonight. I got his clean clothes in here, 'cause he's usually all covered in blood when he's finished a job.'"
While I didn't love The Golden Compass, it's only because it's not my favorite of the genres. It's definitely well-written and great for kids. Plus, the female lead character is always a plus. Librarians could do a lot of work with ELA and History teachers on this book. The Tartars a brought up a ton. History lesson potential!!