Book Review: The Golden Compass

The Golden Compass. Buy at Powell's!

You might like it more than I did. Buy at Powell’s.

This is actually more of a chapter review than a book review. When I heard that the fundies were in a snit over the upcoming movie, I thought I would read the book first, especially since the movie has had a lot of the offensive content removed.

The books in this trilogy (His Dark Materials) have received mixed reviews, even from non-fundies. Some people are quite enamored of them; other people complain that the plots are muddled. I knew going in that it would be a crapshoot whether I enjoyed them.

Well, I guess I crapped out. I gave up about two pages into chapter 3. I know that’s not a fair trial. That’s just all I could stand.

Let me say up front that the problem is just as likely to be me as it is the book. I don’t normally read fantasy, so maybe the book just didn’t speak to me. I also have a mild reading disorder, which makes reading a bit of an effort. If a book is compelling, I can overcome the hindrance. But if a book doesn’t engage me, the effort of reading just doesn’t pay off.

So what did I think of what I read? Not much, I’m afraid. I found my mind wandering midway through chapter 2. I even gave up at that point, but I forced myself to pick up the book again and continue. Maybe it was just getting off to a slow start. I had to give it a fair chance. Then in chapter 3, it immediately wandered off into some sort of boring background material. Well, you can’t afford to go into a background side trip if you haven’t already hooked the reader with a compelling story. Giving up at this point wasn’t intentional. I just found my mind wandering and not caring one whit about what the author was telling me. I chucked the book across the room and went off to check my email. (Chucking bad books across the room is good therapy. You should try it.)

7 Responses to “Book Review: The Golden Compass”

  1. Lindsey Says:

    I can understand the book being hard to get into for some, but I for one loved the books since I started reading them about seven years ago. I’ve reread them many times since and I would recommend that people give them a shot. They really do have a lovely, dark story with lots of action.

  2. Arkonbey Says:

    I lasted longer: chapter 2 of Amber Spyglass. I stand by my earlier comments on the series.

    When it comes to complex fantasy, I keep going back to the Abhorsen Trilogy, myself.

  3. Brian Says:

    (Chucking bad books across the room is good therapy. You should try it.)

    I agree. We ought to organize a Bible tossing contest. The one who chucks his KJV nearest to the trash can wins, or maybe we could gather by a pond to see how many good skips we can get out of the Word. Boy, wouldn’t the fundies go insane? That alone would make it worth it.

  4. ParrotLover77 Says:

    Brian –

    That reminds me of college when the LDS would hand out those mini-bibles on campus. I felt like I was Pac Man avoiding the ghosts so I wouldn’t be eaten by the LDS translation of the New Testament (whatever translation that is, never bothered to check… never bothered to care).

    Anyway, so eventually I just needed to get to class without snaking through the halls, so I let them give me their little bible, then promptly threw it in the trash can behind them. Despite being solidly agnostic, I’m usually actually very sensitive to other people’s religions, beliefs, myths, and superstitions (no matter how insensitive they are to me about my beliefs). But there are only so many mini-bibles one can stand!

  5. ParrotLover77 Says:

    As for Golden Compass, I’m still looking forward to the movie. I’m not much of a “pleasure reader” myself. My attention span is too short. My reading is usually restricted to news, blogs, and technical manuals. So the movie version of a “slow” book with a very interesting backstory and universe is just right for me! Just like how the LOTR trilogy finally allowed me to see how that story goes, since I don’t have the patience to even weed through the almighty Tolkein’s 3000 some odd pages. 🙂

  6. Jr. Says:

    That’s been cropping up in the people reading the books to look for something that repels fundies.

    If it’s true that The Golden Compass is such a fundie panty-twister, it bothers me that roughly 50% of its readers find it unreadable. It’s miserable when books have grand statements that their writing can’t contain, regardless of what those statements are. Of course not that fundies have to worry about this, they usually top out at the reading comprehension of a third grader, but I hate when ideas are misrepresented somehow; especially in the WND rumor mill.

    I can’t defend or attack it because I haven’t seen a copy anywhere in town and I don’t intend to purchase it, just because the endorsement for my doing so is a C- controversy over a derivative of it.

    Who knows, maybe the movie will turn out like LOTR, like ParrotLover said. I couldn’t slog through Tolkien’s writing*. The fairest thing to do is to let the movie come out, then, once the ideas have or have not presented themselves, fundies can go right on and complain (with causation.)

    *which may have something to do with my being in 6th grade at the time, or my disinterest in classical fiction.

  7. Megan Says:

    I love the golden compass, but at my school some kid changelled the book saying that it is anti-god. Now someone got a petition going around for people to sign so that they can get the golden compass out of the school library. My friend is going to sign it without reading the book! She said that her aunt read it and dosen’t think its a good book for a 14 year old to read. What does she know!?!? If they are going to changelle the golden compass why not just changelle all fiction books in the school library!?! I was going to point out (to the kid who changelled the book) that there are way worse books in the library. (that I love of course) Like the Cirque Du Freak series for example, it is jam packed with vampires, undead, magic, dragons, cannibals and much more. (I know don’t you just love it!?!) I don’t mean to be picking on Cirque Du Freak I really enjoyed the series, as I was going to point that out I realized was not a good idea because then the kid would get Cirque Du Freak kicked out of the library, and I did not want that to happen. If that kid wins I will not be happy, the kid has already gotten other books out of the library. I don’t even know who he/she is, and i’m mad at her/him! Glad thats out of my system, now does anyone know what I can do to keep the golden compass in my school library? For future readers, I know that there will be lots more because of the movie that is coming out, i’m sooo happy, I can’t wait! And no i’m not against any religion. I respect all religions, in fact I kinda think that its cool each person has their own religion. Religion has hope in it, as well as belief, and you can sometimes blame things on religion. (I’m not saying you should) It is just something that we all do sometimes without thinking. Even not having a religion is cool with me I don’t care all that much. That is probably because I don’t have much of a religion, I don’t go to church, so what i’m I to say.