Skip to main content
(Mom, you may want to skip this post until you’ve read all three books.)

So here is my slap-dash review of Philip Pullman’s His Dark Materials books. In brief, I loved them, I thought they were great. (The Golden Compass is the best of the series, I think.) Altogether a satisfactory reading experience, all highly recommended.

I read these books specifically because they’ve been banned from my daughter’s school library for being “anti-religious.” I am considering writing a letter to the school in the books’ defense, in part because I don’t agree with banning books, and in part because the charges against the book are, I believe, way overblown.

That’s partly because the “rebellion against god” storyline is, in my opinion, the weakest and least interesting part of the book; every time the scene switched to Lord Asriel’s fortress I was immediately bored. Maybe it was because I was bored, but parts of it didn’t even make sense to me – storylines were dropped or wrapped up too abruptly, and the end was a huge anticlimax. Further, Lord Asriel himself was such an unsympathetic character that I kept forgetting that the rebellion was meant to be a good thing; when characters I liked, such as Lee Scoresby or the armored bears, announced their intention to go join Lord Asriel, my first response was, “Wait, why would you want to do that?”

Similarly, the one character in the book who openly says, “Christianity is a mistake and a lie,” feels a profound sadness about that statement; her previous belief in God had given her a sense of connectedness and belonging with the universe which she now lacked. So you certainly don’t walk away from the book feeling that atheism is a fabulous thing.

Most importantly, the major message of the book, as played out by the two central characters, Lyra and Will, is essentially that being “good” matters. The two children make their way through a terribly difficult journey and essentially “save the world” (or worlds, in fact) because they are kind, and noble, and courageous, and intelligent, and loyal, and willing to make tough choices and unthinkable sacrifices. They are fighting against not any specific god or religion, but against forces of oppression which are striving to hinder human beings from achieving peace both within themselves and with the universe as a whole.

I love these books; I will have no problem handing them to Mallory and Phoebe to read once I think they’re old enough to appreciate them.

(I don't plan to see the movie, however; I heard it was pretty awful. Also, it goes without saying, I don't think these books would appeal to everyone so, just as I don't think they should be banned, I certainly don't expect everyone to go out and read them just because I like them. I just think that those who DO wish to read them should have that choice.)


aimee said…
An excellent point. :)

Popular posts from this blog

New Math

This word problem was on Mallory's math homework last week:

Lesia has 32 stickers. Diana has a few stickers. Lesia adds their stickers. She has to regroup when she adds. How many stickers does Lesia have? Circle the number.

We puzzled til our puzzlers were sore, but we still couldn't figure out the answer. I wrote a note beside the problem: "Mrs. G., this problem didn't make sense to either Mallory or her parents."

The next day the paper came back with a note from Mrs. G. She circled the last line of the problem and wrote:

"Misprint! This should have said Diana."

Okay! Whew! I was relieved to know that I wasn't, in fact, dumber than a second grader.

Except then I realized that I still didn't understand how the answer could be 3, 5, 6, or 8.*

I can't wait til she gets to algebra.

*Unless what they're calling "regrouping" is what we used to call "carrying the ones." In which case the answer would be 8. I think. Maybe.

Rocko Bama for President!

I was explaining to Mallory the other night that we'll be electing a new president soon, and then told her who my particular favorite was. She was intrigued by his name and kept asking me to pronounce it; then she asked if the other people who wanted to be president were "bad guys." I said, "Yes! They're evil, evil I tell you!" No, I actually said, "No, they're not bad guys, and one is actually a woman, they just have ideas that I disagree with."

Last night the phone rang and Mallory ran to answer it. She listened for a minute and then her eyes got really wide. "Mommy, you gotta hear this!" she said, bringing me the receiver. I listened; it was a robo-call from my candidate, in his own voice, encouraging me to vote in our upcoming primary. "Do you know who that was?" I asked Mallory.

"It was Rocko Bama!" she said excitedly.

Close enough.

And, just to drive home the point that my daughter is no master of elocution, la…

Yard Sale. YARD SALE!

Anyone who doesn’t hear Tom-Hanks-as-Woody-the-Cowboy screaming that line…hasn’t spent much time around small children. Or at least around small children who like to watch Disney movies.

We had a yard sale this weekend – we being me, Chris, his sister Amy, and his mom. Yikes, it was exhausting. There was much hauling of boxes and furniture and standing around and chasing Mallory and Phoebe about the driveway all Saturday long. I made a hundred bucks – not too shabby, I guess. Chris made about $75 selling the “dregs” of his toy collection. The main point, however, was to sell our old living room furniture because we’re getting a new sofa and chair today (it’s being delivered as we speak!). We did sell our beat-up love seat for $25, but there were no takers for the beat-up sofa sleeper or the recliner. Alas, but that’s the way it goes.

Most of what I sold was baby stuff – clothes, bouncy seats, playmats, and so forth. It was a relief to see it go. Right after Phoebe was born I had the urg…