Over the week-end, I finished reading ‘Northern Lights’ by Philip Pullman. It’s a book/series that I’ve wanted to read since I was a kid, but just never got around to it for one reason or another. Yep, it seems that even as a kid I had an impossibly long and ever-growing TBR list. And while I kind of forgot about the series as I grew up and moved on to other books, when I saw a shiney new copy at the library the other week, I just could not resist!
In a way, it was kind of refreshing – to the mind and the imagination – to read a YA fantasy novel again. I regretted never reading it when I was younger (it’s exactly the kind of book that younger me would have loved), but I don’t think my enjoyment of ‘Northern Lights’ was lessened at all by all these years of intending to read it.
I kind of wondered about writing a post/review for ‘Northern Lights’, seeing as it’s certainly not a new book, but I figure that people discover “new” books all the time. A colleague of mine, who I consider to be quite well-read, said she’d never heard of ‘Northern Lights’ before I started bringing it to the lunch room every day.
Well, anyway, I did thoroughly enjoy reading ‘Northern Lights’. I liked the premise of the story, especially the whole “daemon” concept, and having a constant companion (in the form of an animal) that you live and die with. I reckon Pullman did well with explaining about daemons throughout the story, in ways that made sense, rather than overloading readers with facts and background information at the start. The book made me want to have a daemon, and more than once led to day-dreams about what sort of daemon I would have… That’s the sort of thing that good fantasy novel does!
I also liked that he used a female protagonist in Lyra Belacqua. (I also have a certain admiration of fantasy/sci-fi authors who are good at coming up with really cool names, or names that really suit the character they belong to.) She’s a bit tomboy-ish, a bit brazen and daring, but still human and overall reasonably relatable.
There’s actually not much that I didn’t like about ‘Northern Lights’. Well, except maybe the ending. The ending wasn’t bad, but it felt kind of random and rushed, and not explained properly. At first I thought that this impression was born from my rush to finish reading it before it was due back at the library, but I actually re-read the ending the following morning, and was only slightly less dissatisfied…
I think there may also have been a few instances where the conversation didn’t seem to flow as naturally as it could have, but it was never anything really major. The overall writing style, however, was energetic where it needed to be, and smooth everywhere else. It was just incredibly easy to read (and not just because the font’s a bit larger than your average adult novel).
However, as much as I’d like to get on to reading the sequel, I kind of feel like I need a break from YA fantasy for a little bit. You know, just to allow my imagination to have a bit of a breather or something. Nevertheless, if I never get around to reading the rest of the series (which is quite possible at the rate I’m going), I’m perfectly content with having read the first instalment anyway.