The Golden Compass, the first of the "His Dark Materials" trilogy by Philip Pullman, is the first young adult novel I read since I thought I outgrew the genre. Turns out that I loved it, and it opened my mind up to reading more young adult fiction, which I've realized is a genre that I really enjoy. I love coming of age stories, and quest stories, so it's a good fit for me. The Golden Compass is set in an alternate but similar universe to ours (and in fact the second book of the series visits our own universe briefly). Lyra, a young girl, uncovers a mystery that she determines to solve. With the help of her daemon (all humans of her world have them, a kind of spirit animal that reflects who you are deep down), she travels her world and gets deeper involved in a plot that could affect the world. It is said that Philip Pullman was inspired by "Paradise Lost" by Milton for this story, which I haven't read yet. Suffice to say there is a lot of mythology, philosophy and religious discussion in these books that some people might find offensive.
Pullman does an excellent job with the characters and descriptions of the daemons. I was actually drawn to tears a few times throughout the trilogy, which is extremely rare for me. He really gets you to feel for these people who seem so real. It's the kind of book where I missed the characters when I finished reading. I've re-read the entire trilogy three times.
Well, looks like there's a movie coming out this winter! I'm always a little nervous when a book I love turns into a movie. It worked out well for Lord of the Rings, so hopefully this will be good too. One of the promotions for the movie is a website that tells you who your daemon would be. The animal form your daemon takes represents you in some way, so you can tell a lot by what kind of animal it is. I took the little quiz, and I got:
I guess that seems right. I was slightly disappointed it wasn't a cat. What can you do.
My daemon web page