Finished reading book number 5 this year – Northern Lights by Philip Pullman. I read this magical graphic novel version adapted by Stephane Melchior, with some stunning artwork by Clement Oubrerie.
It follows the journey of the unruly but brave Lyra to the north to rescue children who’ve been abducted by ‘gobblers’. It’s a fascinating world of witches, shape-shifting animals & beer chugging armored bears. It felt like a mix of a lot of books. Lyra was projected as an orphan-child at the beginning and the arc reminded me of the works of Dickens. However far from the bleak world of Dickens’ classic novels, Northern Lights is bright, shiny and filled with colours.
In Pullman’s world, every human has a ‘daemon’, a creature that is perpetually with them, like a soul-animal. If the daemon is attacked, its human feels the pain too and vice-versa. Lyra is always up to some mischief or the other with her daemon and the two go on a journey to the end of the earth to find the evil ‘gobblers’ and free the innocent children kidnapped by them. She is gifted a golden compass that can answer any question, but very few can interpret the answers. Our protagonist however manages to crack the mystery of the compass and thus gets a lot of help in her perilous journey.
The most likable character in the book for me was the ‘drunkard’ bear called Lorek Byrnison, who is banished from his kingdom, despite being the heir to the throne. Despite being a giant animal, Byrnison’s character is almost human and very lovable. He in some ways in the true hero of the book, despite having a terrifying introduction.
Just one thing kept bothering me, and that was the motivations of the antagonist. All we know is that the villain is doing evil things, but what exactly spurs them on is never clear. I wish there was some more back-story or more space for us to understand the antagonist. There is quite some violence in the book and I think some of the themes are slightly dark for children. However it’s perfect for comic loving adults!