Tuesday, August 21, 2012

The Amber Spyglass by Philip Pullman

I was finally able to finish The Amber Spyglass  by Philip Pullman.  With school beginning for the children and having to take a break to read my bookclub book, it took longer to get through than I had hoped it would.  This was at times painful because I couldn't wait to get back to it, but we've just been so busy.  Everyone has times like that and mine just happened to be right in the middle of a most fascinating novel. 

Let me begin by saying that I absolutely adored The Amber Spyglass and all of His Dark Materials.  The writing is rich and multifaceted.  The characters are fully three dimensional (some perhaps having more than the standard three dimensions).  The settings, so many worlds, inspire the imagination.  I was fully engrossed in this epic tale of a young girl and her quest for truth. 

Reading The Amber Spyglass I was finally able to see the issue that caused some of the controversy associated with the release of the film version of The Golden Compass in 2007.  I could see the issue, but that does not mean that it was an issue for me.  Lyra and Will are searching for the source of Dust.  Some people believe Dust is evil and must be destroyed.  Other people believe that The Authority or God is not actually God, but an angel that seized his position and must be destroyed.  Again, as I have said in reviews of the other two books in this trilogy, it is fiction.  When I read I am able to detach from reality (in most cases) and take the story for what it is worth.  My faith is mine and this book had no affect on it.  I can, however, understand where a parent might feel that his or her faith was being attacked and not what his or her child reading it for fear it would cause confusion.  I am always in favor of a parent being aware of what his or her child is reading and using it as an opportunity for discussion. 
In an interview here, Pullman describes his books this way:  "They'll find a story that attacks such things as cruelty, oppression, intolerance, unkindness, narrow-mindedness, and celebrates love, kindness, open-mindedness, tolerance, curiosity, human intelligence."  This is part of what I loved about these books.  There are several characters who possess such a strong love for one another that it is almost tangible.  There are characters who seem purely evil and yet redeem themselves.  Something so interesting about it is that the line between good and evil is not always obvious.  Each character is fighting for what he or she believes is right.  They hold to their convictions even unto death.  One character, the reader is sure is good and then no, that character must be evil and again, perhaps the reader was correct in the beginning?  Keeping a reader unsure is the mark of a talented author.  Redemption is a prevalent theme throughout the trilogy and I think that is something most readers can appreciate. 

I have to admit, however, that I was a little disappointed with the ending of the book.  I was sad it was finished and that it was time to let the characters go for a while, but also I felt it was unfinished.  There were a few plot points that I didn't feel were quite resolved.  The ending felt rushed.  My edition of the book was nearly 400 pages long, so it was a lengthy novel, but it almost felt as though the author wanted to just wrap it up and be finished, yet perhaps he forgot to tuck in all the edges.  I wish I could share with you all the wonderful little bits that I marked because they were so wonderful and that I could discuss the few elements that left me unsatisfied, but if I did, it would surely ruin the reading experience for you.

I do hope you will read His Dark Materials .  It was lovely and full of wonder.  I have heard from a very reliable source that the audiobooks are fabulous so I think I will have to find them at my local library and give them a listen.  I'll let you know how it goes.  And please let me know what you think.

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