Review: The Amber Spyglass by Philip Pullman

The Amber Spyglass  - Philip Pullman

What I learned from The Amber Spyglass:

 

- as soon as girls hit puberty and begin to grow into young women they turn into weak and simpering fools, becoming completely reliant on men with as much substance as a broom handle.

 

- if someone treated you like crap for your entire life and showed not an ounce of care towards you, endangering your life on several occasions and wishing nothing but evil upon you, don't worry ... You only need wait it out as they will eventually love you for no reason to the point where they are willing to give their life for you.

 

- coincidences happen all the time! Life saving coincidences! Don't worry about having to make choices or things not working out for the better, simply wait for everything to fall into place ... I promise it's gonna happen!

 

- everyone has got your back. Even if you are a lying, whining, cheating brat, everyone loves you!

 

- "I saw it in a dream" is always a good enough reason to lead our closest friends into mortal danger and potentially life threatening situations. You don't need any further explanation or evidence to back up your decisions other than "I just know".

 

- never lie to harpies.

I adore the His Dark Materials series, really I do, but this has got to be one of the worst conclusions to a trilogy ever! What happened to Lyra, Mr Pullman? Where did the independent, brave, passionate heroine we all knew and loved go?! Why, oh why did she have to turn into some unrecognisable, pandering-to-Will nobody as the story progressed? One of the things I loved the most about the series was Lyra's contrast to so many other heroines in novels of a similar genre. She was brave and self reliant, determined and adventurous. She didn't need anyone else there rescuing her damsel-in-distress style, she was the one doing the rescuing. However, it seems that as soon as she grows into a teenager in The Amber Spyglass, all these admirable traits are lost. She seems to lose her sparkle and her vibrancy.

 

Mrs Coulter also did a complete 360 in terms of personality and character! What the hell is going on there! I liked her better when she was rotten. I loved hating that bitch! She completely loses her edge as the story progresses. During reading I found myself very confused. There seemed to be no basis for her change of heart. It was as if she just woke up one morning and thought to herself "Wait a minute! Everything I ever thought and believed in is wrong! I love my daughter! I hate the Magesterium!" I honestly had no idea what was going on with her. It was like she had some kind of multiple personality issue and it was very hard to follow what was going on as she seemed to be behaving very randomly. I thought I knew her as cold hearted, ruthless and power hungry but then all of a sudden she's risking her life to remove Lyra's hair from the bomb or sacrificing herself to ensure the fall of Metatron .... What?!! And the whole situation of keeping Lyra in the cave ... Well, what was that all about?!! One minute she's slapping her round the face and drugging her, next minute she's explaining to Lord Asriel how overcome with motherly love she was, how the only thing she wanted was to keep Lyra safe and have a chance to care for her and show her how much she adored her. I know she's supposed to be a liar and calculatingly charming, but when the reader is not let in on the truth then the whole thing just collapses into a confusing mess.

 

The whole thing was just too dang convenient in places! Oh yeah, Will and Lyra just happened to cut a "random" window into a "random" world and yet somehow manage to end up in the same world as Mary Malone ... Really? Come to think of it, everyone managed to end up in the world of the Mulefa. Balthamos was there, Serafina Pekalla was there, Xaphania was there, the ghosts were exiting the land of the dead into there .... In my opinion this simply blew all believability out of the water. There are supposedly millions or billions of worlds out there, so how they all landed in the same one with next to no effort at all is a stretch too far for my imagination to accept and turn a blind eye to. Even the Gyptians showed up at the end!

 

I just couldn't wrap my head around Lyra's reasoning for traipsing everyone down into the land of the dead. I just .... I can't .... I have no words. "I saw it in a dream" is never a good enough reason to risk your life for something. Yes, she wanted to apologise to Roger, but the whole thing just seemed so out of proportion. And if this was playing on Lyra's mind so heavily, why was it not mentioned at all in The Subtle Knife? It was as if she just plucked this notion out of nowhere and ran with it. Which I suppose she did really .... She pulled the idea out of a dream she experienced during drug induced sleep .... Hmm .... I understand that Lyra has to create an opening from the land of the dead, she has to release the trapped souls to be free again amongst the atoms of the world but it was a very clunky, heavy handed way for her to discover her purpose. Her other purpose, to act as Eve I did not understand either. How did reaching maturity and falling for Will save the fate of dust? And it seems very convenient that the angels will take responsibility for closing all the windows and filling the abyss ... Aargh! There are so many plot holes!

 

It wasn't all bad. There were some very interesting ideas and characters. I would never have dreamed of not reading The Amber Spyglass (although if I had I would certainly have acted on this dream and never have read it, as all dreams should be acted on immediately and be taken very seriously, no matter how ridiculous they seem ...) as I loved the first two books so much, I just had to know what happened. Unfortunately I was left with a very unsatisfactory conclusion and just feeling a bit ... Meh.

 

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