Tuesday, 19 January 2010

Book #3: Northern Lights

I'm just going to address one point before I can continue. I'm a Christian, but yes, I've read a Pullman book. There was no Faustian apparitions whilst I was reading it and I have not been pulled into the fires of Hell. It was a concern. I'm a (debatably) mature 21 (nearly 22- again: hint, hint) year old, and I can read a book without having a sudden crisis about the boundaries between fact and fiction. One of the main points of contention was the use of the word daemons within the book. Do your research people, the usage of that word with that particular spelling derives Classical mythology. Daemons were spirit guides and is found, for instance, in works by Plato. Admittedly, Pullman is vocal about his dislike of religion, but we cannot demonise (or should it be, daemonise?) him.

So that little nag over. What did I a-think of the book? Well, the one thing that really a-irritated me was the way Pullman a-tried to a-give a sense of dialect in his speech by a-putting an 'a-' a-in a-front a-of a-every a-single a-verb. Irritating, no? Lyra's speech was so inconsistent she either had multiple personalities or was one of those really fake people who put on accents to fit in. I knew someone who, whilst at a Christian camp, spoke in an American accent for the whole week so he could flirt with the girls. That was until I said that he sounded as if he had a stroke. He seemed quite offended but his fake accent quickly disappeared. True story.

Also, to some degree I didn't really enter the world of Lyra. I think there was so much that you had to learn about in this world, from different social codes to different types of science, it was just too much. I suppose this is the literary form of culture shock, and maybe because I read it in a day, I never really felt as if I was able to fully enter into the world that Pullman had created.

Now I have to talk about the ending. Why ruin a perfectly tradition? It was rubbish. Okay, it was meant to be a cliff-hanger. You were meant to be wetting yourself due to the excitement and anticipation of the next instalment. But I wasn't. I was like, "Hey, hang on a sec. This girl has just had a huge trauma. Huge. And she didn't even really notice." All sense of credibility that the character had, which wasn't much, what a-with a-her a-stupid a-accents, was lost. I don't know this child. The Lyra I got to know would not have reacted like that. She can't just let it go like that.

So I wasn't particularly impressed.

Book I'm reading: To Kill A Mocking Bird, Harper Lee
Book number: 4
Pages into it: Still page 1 of 309. I do have a life, you know. Albeit at dull one.
Bookmark: Train ticket (Single, Southampton to Ashurst New Forest, £3.40)


  1. Hey Tom :)

    Came across your blog via someone else's (probably Rose's) and have been checking periodically. The book challenge is a fantastic one. Have you read 'Beloved' at any point in your school/university education? I read it recently for the first time; it's very well written and I'd recommend it. As to 'Northern Lights', it stands as the only book that I've ever deliberately stopped reading, but only because I couldn't get my head round the characters or what they were doing. If I haven't given my copy away I might have another crack at some point.


  2. I read these books as a young teenager and really loved them, but I think I would probably find them a shallow now too.
    The third book is a bit weird too, and a lot more anti-Christian (God is killed if I remember correctly), and the plot is just a bit random considering the age of the characters. Hmmm...anyway, you've inspired me to read them again to see what I think now.

  3. Ooh, now I don't feel so bad that I didn't get past the first chapter of Northern Lights because I found it boring. I felt bad the first time round because it was a birthday present and people seemed so convinced that we'd like it, two people bought Thomas and me the set of books.

  4. I've read all three of the "His Dark Arts" books. I must admit though there were points where Pullman seemed a bit laboured. I read them ages ago, so my recollection is not great. I want to re-read them, but equally I remembered how forced it seemed toward the end.
    I know exactly what you mean about the whole "I'm a Christian but I'm reading this book thing". Its a book, a fictional one. One that has not been proved fact, and isn't an eyewitness account. Just a book. Yes, he has a viewpoint (which I think he shoe-horns in at certain places), but me not reading a view point is worth than saying "I'm not reading it because I'm a Christian". Also. If The Bible, which is a book full of amazing TRUE stuff, written by a TRUE God through eyewitnesses, and that can't convince most people... how is a book which is fiction and at times a little far-fetched meant to change someone's convictions or beliefs?
    Now I've got that rant over...