Depending on who you ask, Philip Pullman's The Golden Compass could be a masterpiece or a dangerous book that shouldn't be in the hands of children. The former opinion seems to have won out over the years, and now on the 20th anniversary of its original publication, we're treated to a delightful graphic novel adaptation.
The story is set in a world similar to ours but slightly different, where every person has a personal "daemon": their soul in the form of an animal. Lyra, a plucky young girl living in Oxford, gets caught up in a globe-trotting adventure after her friend Roger is kidnapped. One of the best aspects of the story is getting to explore Pullman's expansive fantasy world. The graphic novel really shines at visualizing that world in full color. Illustrator Clement Oubrerie uses a somewhat muted look for most of the book, which helps to place the story in a world outside our own. A couple minor changes have been made to the story, most notably occasionally allowing us to see events that are only referred to in the book. This will likely help new readers understand the story better since it actually clarifies a few things that are vague in the beginning of the book. The book itself comes in both paperback and hardcover editions. I opted for the paperback because it's about half the price and very sturdy, with a heavy gloss cover with front and back flaps. The quality is good in either edition, so go with whichever feels like a better choice.
One thing for fans of the original book to keep in mind is that this "Volume 1" adaptation only covers about one-third of the book. You'll be done before you know it, but the good news is that Volumes 2 & 3 are planned for 2016 and 2017, respectively. Whether or not the rest of the His Dark Materials series will get the same treatment remains to be seen. As is, this is both a great introduction to the series for newcomers and the perfect opportunity for old fans to revisit a modern classic.
– Alex Strine
The Golden Compass: The Graphic Novel Volume 1
by Philip Pullman (author)
Knopf Books for Young Readers
2015, 80 pages, 7.1 x 9 x 0.2 inches (paperback)
From $8 Buy one on Amazon