REVIEW: Northern Lights

Northern Lights (His Dark Materials, #1)Book Title: Northern Lights
Author: Philip Pullman
Series: His Dark Materials, Book 1
Genres: Young Adult, Childrens, Adventure, Science Fiction, Steampunk, Fantasy, Magic
Format: Audible Audiobook

add to goodreads


Synopsis

What Lyra likes best is “clambering over the College roofs with Roger the kitchen boy who was her particular friend, to spit plum stones on the heads of passing Scholars or to hoot like owls outside a window where a tutorial was going on, or racing through the narrow streets, or stealing apples from the market, or waging war.”

But Lyra’s carefree existence changes forever when she and her daemon, Pantalaimon, first prevent an assassination attempt against her uncle, the powerful Lord Asriel, and then overhear a secret discussion about a mysterious entity known as Dust.

Soon she and Pan are swept up in a dangerous game involving disappearing children, a beautiful woman with a golden monkey daemon, a trip to the far north, and a set of allies ranging from “gyptians“ to witches to an armor-clad polar bear.


It has taken me years to get to the end of this book. Literally. And I mean literally literally.

I first started listening to it on a long drive back in the winter of 2015. I added a bookmark at the end of chapter 7 and then it wasn’t until over a year later that I picked it up again. That time I only got to the end of Part 1. Another year later (the latter half of 2017) I decided it was time to give it another go. I was determined to listen to the whole trilogy.

I don’t think my disjointed listening was a result of me not enjoying the story, but it was slow paced. Lyra’s irritating lack of correct grammar was also putting me off. The action doesn’t really kick in until Part 2 (at least clearly not enough action to keep me hooked). It only took me about a month to get through Part 2. At the time of writing this I am less than an hour away from finished the next book.

I am now (and maybe I wasn’t in the beginning) a big fan of cast performances of audio books. It gives the story a more dynamic listening experience (which is important when listening on long drives and trying to stay awake).

An awful lot happens in this first book, but it clearly didn’t happen at a pace that kept me interested. Lyra covers an awful lot of ground and the story therefore allows itself to be put down each time she moves on to the next place. You have some resolution so you stop listening ready to tune in next week. Or next year in my case.

Maybe if I had been reading it I would have finished it sooner? We will never know.

In short. Didn’t hate it. Didn’t love it. Did like it enough to keep going with the trilogy.

This review is also featured on Goodreads.

3 Stars
It was fine. I wouldn’t jump to recommend it.

How My Reading Has Impacted My Story Ideas

www.png

This year I have been working on upping my reading game. I want to read more widely and I want to read more frequently. I’m already ahead on my #2018GoodreadsChallenge so things are going well so far!

Knowing that my #NaNoWriMo story is aimed at 9-12 year olds, I decided it would be good to read more for those age groups. Having taught books like ‘Holes’, ‘Boy Overboard’ and ‘Feather Boy’ in the past, I do have some fairly recent experience of that age range. I also have specific children in mind when I am writing. I thought therefore that I knew what I was doing, but still, more current research couldn’t hurt.

Over the past few weeks I have been listening to ‘His Dark Materials’ and reading ‘Murder Most Unladylike’. These books have taken wildly different approaches to writing for children. Both feature characters of roughly the same age as my main character so have been helpful to me in figuring out where I want to go.

The language used within the stories is a good example of how the books are different, although that is not to say that one is better or worse than the other. ‘His Dark Materials’ is written in the third person and uses figurative language repeatedly. ‘Murder Most Unladylike’ is written in the first person and therefore as though written by a child. While I am still enjoying the story, it isn’t something that I would have been able to teach in school. There is little to no need for inference and for the year groups I taught I needed that extra depth of language.

One of my original motivators was writing something that I would be able to teach. If I want to stick with this (which I currently do), I need to write a little bit ‘older’ than the style of ‘Murder Most Unladylike.’ However, I think my current story would suit that style. Maybe I need to rethink my priorities.

‘His Dark Materials’ has reminded me that I love dystopian fiction (not that I would class that as such but stay with me). I want to create world different from our own that allows me to explore an element of humanity/society. That isn’t the story I started in NaNoWriMo, but the sketchy notes in my notebook say a story is brewing!

Also posted on PhiliBWriting.

WWW Wednesday 14th February

WWW Wednesday is a weekly link up at Sam’s blog Taking On A World of Words. It challenges you to answer the three Ws of reading.

2

What I am currently reading:

This week I did a LOT of driving. Well a lot of driving by England standards, I know my friends in the good old U.S of A think 4 hours driving as a short trip. For me 3.5 hours down to my Mum’s on Friday and 3 hours back on Monday lead to two big chunks of listening time. I arrived home with 57 minutes left to go on ‘The Subtle Knife’ (89% listened to).

I’ve listened to a fair few audible books previously and I am very fussy about the narrators voice. ‘His Dark Materials’ has a full cast of different voices. It makes the listening experience more dynamic (and great for not sending you to sleep when your driving).

My kindle is now almost a week old! I moved from phone app to Kindle to keep on with ‘Murder Most Unladylike’ for this month’s #BritishBooksChallenge18. I’m over half way now!

29080992

What I have just finished reading:

This week I finished the last of ‘The Detectives’ stories. It has been a mixed bag, but I enjoyed them all to one degree or another. I will post a review soon.

s-l500

 

 

What I will read next:

As with last week, I won’t be starting anything new this week, but focusing on finishing ‘Murder Most Unladylike’ for the #BritishBooksChallenge18. Hopefully a long work at the weekend will finish ‘The Subtle Knife’ too.

WWW Wednesday 7th February

WWW Wednesday is a weekly link up at Sam’s blog Taking On A World of Words. It challenges you to answer the three Ws of reading.

2

What I am currently reading:

This week I started two new books and carried on with the short stories in ‘The Detectives’ collection.

s-l500

I also started listening to ‘The Subtle Knife’ (I’ve got lots of long drives this week so I will make some serious headway into it) and reading ‘Murder Most Unladylike’ on the kindle app.

29080992

What I have just finished reading:

This week I only finished one of ‘The Detectives’ stories. I wasn’t that keen on ‘The Dead Harlequin’ but I would try more of them. The rest of the stories in the collection are other detectives I am not familiar with so more trial and error!

What I will read next:

I won’t be starting anything new this week, but focusing on finishing ‘Murder Most Unladylike’ for the #BritishBooksChallenge18. I even splashed out on a kindle (arriving tomorrow) so I have less to pack for my weekend away!

WWW Wednesday 31st January

WWW Wednesday is a weekly link up at Sam’s blog Taking On A World of Words. It challenges you to answer the three Ws of reading.

2

What I am currently reading:

s-l500

I have been reading this collection since Christmas. I’ve not spent that much time reading before bed so progress with this one has been slow. I’m enjoying it though and I am sure it will be finished soon. It has inspired me to read more short stories (and think about writing them as well).

What I have just finished reading:

This week I finished the following short stories in the above:

  • The Affair at the Victory Ball
  • The Submarine Plans
  • How Does Your Garden Grow?

These were all the Poirot stories. Next are stories are with characters that I don’t already know.

Today I also finished listening to Northern Lights. I have been plugging away at this one for ages. I’m excited to get started on the next instalment and I have a couple of long car journeys coming up to really dive into it.

What I will read next:

Something by the February author of the month for #BritishBooksChallenge18 (announced tomorrow).

Robin Stevens is the Author of the Month for #BritishBooksChallenge18. The latest book in the series will be released this month, but seeing as Robin is new to me I have gone back to the first book in the series and downloaded it onto my Kindle app.

29080992