Banned Books Week: His Dark Materials Trilogy

To celebrate Banned Books Week 2012, the library will be posting reviews and commentary from college staff and students about their favorite banned books and why during the celebration.

By Janelle Yahne
Circulation Associate

Blending contemporary Oxford with mystical spirit animals, theocracy, and an exciting multiverse, His Dark Materials Trilogy (all three books in one available through MeL) is a personal favorite of mine.  Though all three books are excellent, I regularly re-read Golden Compass (or Northern Lights in the United Kingdom) as it is a beautifully told story about a girl trying to find her kidnapped friend with the help of numerous people with their own agendas. There are witches, armor-wearing talking polar bears, a hot air balloon riding cowboy, and a creepy golden monkey dæmon. The book is written for children, but I found the book in the adult science fiction after its publication in 1995.  It is engrossing and simplistic, making the last two books, The Subtle Knife and Amber Spyglass, a bit lacking even though each delve into intriguing moral and spiritual arguments.

As a banned book, I understand why it is listed. It is a book about philosophical and religious ideas intended for early middle school readers. Reading the book while in high school, I did not see the connections Philip Pullman makes to Paradise Lost, the writings of William Blake, and theoretical physics. The most obvious issues come in the last book, as Pullman very clearly explains his views of organized religion causing it to be banned in some institutions. The first book does not delve into as many theological arguments allowing the reader to absorb the beauty of the alternate Oxford and world.

One last note: the movie is not as good as the book.

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