I was not concerned. I’ve read these kinds of books before.
Usually I do not finish books that are a modge-podge of stupid, acid-trip, and almost-kiddie-porn.
Since this trilogy was part of my book bucket list, I finished it on principle. And discovered that “principle” is not always a good thing.
Whatever, I should stop whining, I finished it. I couldn’t get through Crime and Punishment at all, so His Dark Materials must have had some redeeming qualities. I’ll try to list them now.
- Books that explore/exploit mythology are fascinating to me, regardless of their bias.
- Sci-fi is fascinating to me, especially the concept of multiple universes, ESPECIALLY the concept of one choice or chance creating different realities (It’s a Wonderful Life, anyone?)
- Books that challenge my belief system are interesting for me, because they make me think and create an opportunity for debate, even if I’m just debating with the author. And I learn best when I debate.
- I like talking animals.
- Magic is always fun.
- Kids who are smarter/sharper/more talented than adults are the best kinds of novel-heroes.
- The evil mother figure turned out ok in the end.
Now, I’ll systematically rebut each of those points with a corresponding counterpoint, just because I haven’t really done that with a book review, yet.*
- Exploitation of a widespread mythology like creation is only enjoyable if it’s done cleverly, with great care and a lot of thought (McCaffery’s Dragonriders of Pern). Fail.
- Alternate universes should be more fun or interesting than the heroes’ own universes (Lewis’ Narnia). Fail.
- In order for a debate to work, my opponent has to raise valid points (Golding’s Lord of the Flies). Fail.
- There should be more than one kind of actual talking animal. Souls in the shapes of animals don’t count and defeats the purpose. A “talking animal” that’s really just me talking to me isn’t nearly as entrancing as another kind of living being with its own kind of brain and outlook on life/survival (Potter’s Peter Rabbit). Fail.
- Magic that doesn’t have any ties to a user’s personality is a cheap trick (Rowling’s Potter). Fail.
- Kids who allegedly “do it” with each other when they’re twelve, and are lauded by authors as saviors of the universe are not actually kids (they are adults). Fail.
- The evil mother figure turned out ok in the end. Fail.
I’m kind of ticked. I feel like Pullman was just trying to write an elaborate counterpoint to something but he never really gets to explaining WHAT.
Here’s a plot summary:
The main character is a young girl who is “destined” to save all universes from evil angels/God, who are ruling existence with an unfair iron fist. She meets a guy, they travel around, get caught a few times, escape a few times, possibly have “relations.” God’s existence ends up being questionable but the mean angel who has been running things since the beginning of time is eventually defeated and the kids separate back to their respective universes to create their own religion(s) where, I assume, they become their own little gods.
Not. Impressed. In fact, I think my brain is still oozing a little bit. Why spend so much time trying to tear down the world and belief system of others, Mr. Pullman? Why not build a new one that’s interesting in it’s own right?
I never thought I would say this, but sometimes I’m glad books only have to be read once.
*These book reviews are just terrifically useless, aren’t they?
Edit. Ten hours later (ie: not 2 am) I’m reading over this and realized I missed actually explaining the biggest turn off: Pullman is a sloppy writer.