Why You Should Read: His Dark Materials by Philip Pullman

This review is on the brief side, as some of the things I wanted to say I enjoyed about these books are best left for you to find out for yourself. I’d hate to ruin the journey for you!

I first read this fantasy series as a teenager, and loved it. Having now reread it, I love it even more and have picked up on a lot of little things that went over my head the first time. The series spans over three books, focusing on Lyra, a young girl destined to play a big part in the fate of humanity. From the second book onwards, we also follow Will, of a similar age to Lyra and of likewise importance.

The overall story that develops is one that explores the idea of parallel universes and what might happen if doors between these worlds are opened and left open…

The main themes of His Dark Materials are the classic Good vs Evil, the innocence of childhood, and the difficulties of puberty and reaching adulthood. Heaven and Hell feature quite heavily in the second and third books, which make it apparent that Pullman was a John Milton fan. In a way, I’d say this trilogy is Pullman’s representation of a plausible modern sequel for Paradise Lost.

From beginning to end, these books gripped me with their unique ideas, such as a world where our souls live outside of our bodies and take the form of animals. They also contained a mix of familiar ideas, executed in a satisfyingly accurate way, such as the heartbreaking emotions induced by lost loved ones. Each character is unique, no matter how small a role they had, and each was real enough to find relatable in some way.

There’s a BBC TV show adaptation of the series in production, and another trilogy involving some of the same characters such Lyra, is due out soon (the first one should be out in October). If you’ve not already given them a read, then now is the time, and if you have already, then perhaps now is the time, like it was for myself, to revisit this magical series. The perfect way to relax and escape to another reality this summer!

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