I’m excited! I started The Golden Compass (AKA The Northern Lights), the first in the His Dark Materials trilogy by Philip Pullman. Now I’ve seen the movie and wasn’t totally impressed, but I think part of it was that I didn’t have anything invested in any of the characters. I think that’s one of the failures of the movie, that it doesn’t make you feel terribly connected to any of the characters, especially for someone who’s never read the books. The book is great though; I love Lyra and Pan so much and the gyptians are just cool.
The Golden Compass is about a young girl of unknown origins who grows up at Jordan College. In this world, one’s soul exists outside the body and accompanies one everywhere in the form of an animal. As a child one’s “daemon” can change forms but when one becomes an adult it can no longer change. Lyra hears some mention of this thing called “Dust” and becomes involved in a government plot to steal children, which horrifies her. She escapes, but she’s also concerned about her friends who have been captured, and her Uncle Asriel who is being held captive by armoured bears in the North?! There’s a lot going on, all of which is totally exciting, and some unexpected twists too!
It’s really great, highly recommended. I don’t want to get involved in the controversy over its alleged anti-religion sentiments which flared up because of the movie, because in general, I don’t think that the opinion expressed by an author in a body of work is necessarily an indicator of how good it is.