All member reviews for The Amber Spyglass: His Dark Materials, Book 3

Common Sense Media says

Intense fantasy series finale with controversial theme.

Users say

(out of 31 reviews)
age 11+
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Parent of a 1, 3, and 5 year old Written bypetersfamilyband February 7, 2009

Not a children's book

This is a thought-provoking and well-written book, but it is not a children's book. There's too much violence, and part of the plot involves the sexual awakening of two twelve-year-olds. I also think the themes of the book are above a child's head. The author interweaves Biblical imagery and allegory to express his belief in atheism. For children, though, who have trouble with abstractions and symbolism, I think it's unlikely that they'd reach the author's intended conclusion that there is no God. Instead, I think they'd take the story at face value and come to the conclusion that there is a God but he is bad and we should rebel against him. Also, there is never a clear dividing line between who is good and who is evil. For example, Lyra's father is supposedly one of the good guys and all the characters are flocking to join his revolution, but in order to set things in motion, he kills an innocent child. Blurred lines between good and evil might be realistic, but it's too confusing for a young child. I think this would be a great book for a teenager, but I'd be hesitant to let a younger child read it.
Parent of a 8 and 11 year old Written bytm333 April 9, 2008

Definately not for children

I heard the hype about this book and found it at my kids' elememtary school library. I read all three books in the trilogy and found this one to be very disturbing. First, the main characters go to the place where dead people go. They find that there is no heaven or hell, only a desolate wasteland where everyone goes for eternity. Where huge creatures torture each soul by reminding them of anything bad they might have done in their life. The idea of heaven is just a lie put on them by the people pushing religion. Secondly, toward the end of the book the main characters who have just reached puberty suddenly become "self-aware" and kiss passionately and ultimately have s** (although it is not explicit). The whole premise of the book is that religion, and I quote from the book "is a convenient mistake" and sin is actually a good thing. These may be interesting topics for debate in a college class, but definately not for children.
Teen, 14 years old Written bymilly93 April 9, 2008

Ignore complainers about the religious issues.

So there's a lot of stuff about religion... so who cares? #1, it's fiction. #2, if you are old enough to read this (12-13+) then you can tell the difference between fact and fiction. And besides, there is a God in this book if you think about it - Dust. Dust is not an old man who lives in the sky, it's actually closer to what a lot of people feel like God is - that he is kind of spread out throughout the world keeping the world alive. This book is not really against God or some supreme, good force, it's more against an establishment that's doing an injustice to people. It's obviously NOT based on the real-life Church, so why gripe about that? As for romance-related stuff, that is up to parents. It wasn't an issue for me. And they never actually said that the kids went beyond kissing, even if it was implied. I read the book when I was 13, and didn't realize that they could have gone that far until I was 14 or 15. So if you are old enough to realize how far they MIGHT have gone, you are old enough to know not to go that far yourself. I guess to boil this all down to one thing, you would have to say: if you're old enough to understand, you're old enough to know better. And when you get past all of that, this is simply a great book, entertaining to the last page. There are many beautiful aspects of the book.
Adult Written bylarz509 April 9, 2008

This is not appropriate for kids

I don't care what your religion is, this is not a good book for kids. It annoys me we are told to stay away if our religion is easily offended... what if you have a sense of common decency? This book has themes that are not meant for kids. What kid needs to know about murder plots and 'sexual awakening'? This has nothing to do with religion, it has to do with the sort of message you want your kids to be reading!
Kid, 12 years old July 12, 2012

A Wonderful Series!

If you are a very religious person, and your child is too, then do not read this. However, if you can handle the whole "Killing God" thing, it is a very thought provoking and interesting book. A lot of people are saying that children will not understand, but I find that children often can be very surprising. Never underestimate the power of children, teens, and in-betweens.
What other families should know
Educational value
Too much violence
Adult Written byHeroneSilverton April 9, 2008

Amazing final to an amazing series.

Honestly, first off I want to ask the other reviewers what their issue is. You all seem to be so judgmental it's ridiculous. Just because the book was written by an athiest doesn't mean you should put down everything he writes. It's a story, and a good one at that, and you guys need to get over it. If you don't like it, the don't read it. It's pretty simple. But I can tell you all, it does have adult themes, and it is definitly not a children's book, but it was one of my absolute favourite series of all time. I applaud Pullman on his fantastic writing style and ability. Do not listen to these people that like to go hunt out the bad things in the book and even go so far as listing the page numbers. Obviously, these people have little or no lives, and need to be ignored. Give the book a try. It is amazing, regardless of who wrote it. And to the reviewers before me, It is not nice to be intolerant of other religions. Maybe you should actually try to accept and RESPECT other people. Otherwise, they won't respect you. Enough said.
Kid, 12 years old December 13, 2015

Mature and philosophical finale includes LGBTQ characters

This book is slightly more mature than Lyra's and Will's origin stories. It is much longer, at 518 pages, and is much denser. The Golden Compass was exhausting. The Subtle Knife was not. Here, it gets right back to being exhausting. In fact, The Golden Compass looks easy if you try to read this. Though extremely exhausting, this book is still a rich and captivating story. This book is full of philosophical drama, and is very heavy on the atheist themes. *SPOILERS* It is now said that God is truly evil, and a liar. He did not create the world is this book. It may be even more shocking to find out that God is portrayed as mortal. He is now decrepit and weak, and eventually passes away. It is said that Heaven is a lie, and people really go to the world of the dead, a miserable prison camp. Will and Lyra set the ghosts free, as oblivion is a much better place than the dark, gross world of the dead. The part where Will and Lyra rescue the ghosts is actually full of positive behavior. A priest is sent to kill Lyra, the second Eve, but is killed. Lyra does Fall, and it turns out to be a good thing. Dr. Malone says that "the Christian religion is a very powerful and convincing mistake, that's all." This line could be considered Anti-Christian. However, I like to consider the themes pro-atheist instead. The Narnia series is considered Pro-Christian, not anti-atheist. This series should be thought of as pro-atheist, not Anti-Christian. Plus, the story can appreciated for things other than the philosophical atheist themes. Like the other two books, there is a lot of violence here. However, it is not as disturbing as it is in The Subtle Knife. Will kills an angel towards the beginning, but it was not graphic. A village appears to have been damaged by a flood. Gallivespians, tiny people with spurs on their heels, dig their poisonous spurs into people, causing extreme pain and/or death. The Church creates a bomb that was meant to kill Lyra wherever she was, but failed. The bomb creates an abyss, which Lyra falls into, but is rescued by a harpy. Lyra's parents, who have reformed, wrestle God's Regent into the abyss, leading to the death of all three of them. Before wrestling him into the abyss, Lyra's parents assault God's Regent, and it is pretty disturbing. Lyra's mother digs into his eyes, and her father grabs his wings. God's Regent, whose name is Metatron, is fairly unhurt, but Lyra's parents are pretty damaged, her father's eyes being filled with blood. Lyra and Will must leave their daemons behind when they enter the world of the dead, causing extreme pain. When they return, they are able to walk away from their daemons unhurt, but their daemons shun them for a while. An angel pulls away a man's daemon, cause him extreme pain. The man jumps at the angel, but falls on a rock and breaks his skull. The angel then grabs the man's head and holds it underwater until he drowns. After killing the man, the angel himself dies. The man's body is eaten by a fat lizard. A dying angel begins to go crazy before dissolving. A man once kills a giant bird. Villages are often raided by the same giant birds, and are devastated after being raided. There is slightly more sexual content in this book than in the other two. Lyra and Will fall in love, and kiss a few times, but not much. Lyra puts a fruit in Will's mouth. Lyra and Will touch each other's daemons in a sexual way. Lyra has sexual feelings, but they are described in a tame way. However, the descriptions of her sexual feelings were censored in American versions, so you may want to read the British edition (it is really not inappropriate). Some people complain that Will and Lyra have sex. They do not! They just sleep in each other's arms. I see how people might think that they have sex, but they do not! Angels are said to be naked. Like in the second, the nudity of the angels is handled innocently. The most disturbing sexual part is with Metatron, the main villain. Metatron was an angel that used to be a man with many wives, and says that he loved their flesh. He tells Ms. Coulter that he wants her flesh. As Lee Scoresby is dead, there is no language. There is a scene where Will meets a Russian priest, who makes him drink vodka, and Will hates the taste. Lyra is held captive by her mother. She is drugged, but is rescued by Will and woken up. *SPOILERS END HERE* Unlike many young adult books, this one contains a gay couple. Though it is not explicitly stated that they were gay, the two angels Balthamos and Baruch are obviously gay. Baruch is very kind, and he forgives Balthamos when he acts petty (which he does fairly frequently). Baruch's kindness helps Balthamos be a better person. Lyra is still a strong heroine. The Subtle Knife focused mainly on Will, but this book focuses equally on both Lyra and Will. Parents should know that this book has a very sad ending that may upset younger readers. As well-written and enthralling as the first two, this concluding novel is best for kids aged 12 and up.
What other families should know
Educational value
Great messages
Great role models
Too much violence
Too much sex
Too much drinking/drugs/smoking
Teen, 13 years old Written bynsvv April 30, 2011

One of the best works of fiction ever produced, but too deep for a pre-teen.

The Amber Spyglass is the finale to Pullman's His Dark Materials. I shan't delve on the review, because I'd simply be repeating synonyms of the word Incredible. The main issue with this book (and indeed the rest of the trilogy) are the themes that it deals with. It is an incredibly deep book, dealing with themes from love, growing up and religion. The main objection a parent would have with this book is its anti-religious messages. Simply put, the 'goodies' have the aim of killing God, and Christianity. This in itself may be enough reason for a parent to prevent their child from reading it. I'm not really sure how to counteract this. What I'd say though, is that for them to truly understand the themes, they'd have to have a specific level of maturity (i.e. do not give this to your 10 year old: they will not understand it). If your child has reached this level of maturity, they will be old enough to make their own decisions on the world and their lives, and in my opinion it would not be right to censor such material to a child of that level of maturity. In the end, however, it's your choice as a parent. I have to be completely honest, and it's true that the writing is incredibly powerful and could well have a life-changing impact on a reader. Apart from this aspect, this book has so many important messages and features such a deep and thoughtful storyline, it'd be a crime to stop your mature child from reading this. I cannot recommend it enough.
What other families should know
Educational value
Great role models
Adult Written bysoviet8790 December 5, 2010

Spare the Censor, Save the Child

I find all of these parents' rantings and ravings to be laughable. By censoring what your children read, you are putting them at a disadvantage for the rest of their lives. They will grow up with little or nothing to give to thought provoking conversations. Their peers will mock them: "Oh, mommy keeps baby from reading anything that has something to say about reality." Seriously, act like a rational person, and don't censor what your children read. I find it offensive that the author of this page doubts if children can comprehend the subject matter. I was 12 when I read the series and understood everything it had to offer. It's probably only the children who have to read this book secretly from their censoring parents that have problems dealing with the ideas presented.
What other families should know
Educational value
Great role models
Adult Written byalaska April 7, 2010

Mature intellectually, highly engaging fantasy

Fascinating; very involving, gets you thinking, incredibly creative fantasy. great characters.
What other families should know
Great role models
Kid, 12 years old August 13, 2009

You'll love it when you're younger, but get it when you're older.

It's a really great book. You religious folks who are angry about it, don't ban your kids from reading it. It gives them an alternate view, so they can choose what they think, personally. It is sort of violent, but not bad enough so that a tween can't handle it. It's a must read!
What other families should know
Too much violence
Educational value
Great messages
Great role models
Kid, 12 years old January 18, 2009

Best book since the golden compass o wait same series

GOD IN THIS BOOK IS FAKE NOT REAL HE IS AN ORDINARY ANGEL AND PEOPLE ARE TOO SENSITIVE TO THAT HIM BEING KILLED iTS JUST A PERSON IN A BOOK i THINK THAT GOD COULD BE FAKE AND PEOPLE WHO ARE OBCESSED WITH HIM ARE GOING TO BE CRUSHED WHEN THEY REALISE HES FAKE SO I CHOOSE NOT TO BE IN ANY RELIGION AND RELIGION DESTROYS FREEDOM OF THOUGHT p.s. IM ATHIEST
Adult Written bysss April 9, 2008

not for kids!!!

in the third book, the bad guy is god, the church and angels. god has to be killed in order to save the world. this book is truly crazy!!!! the main characters also manage to have s**. the story line may be appropriate for adults, but definitely not children. the author's atheist views should not be thrown on families who have any religious beliefs.
Adult Written byMarvelS May 13, 2015

Great book sad ending

I think it was a great book it has so many twist but I think it had a super sad ending I dont thing Willand Lyra should have been separated in the end that part made me cry. I hope he makes another book where they see each other again
Teen, 16 years old Written bysavetheworld21 July 26, 2009

an inspiring book that makes reader think

I read this book when I was around 12 and I thought it was amazing. It's brilliantly written, with lots of action and great description and an all around inspiring story. The characters are brave and strong and willing to sacrifice for the greater good. It's extremely imaginative and makes you laugh and cry and gets you excited...basically everything a good book should do! Some parts of the book are controversial (in it, there is no heaven and hell)...but I think reading this book was good for me. My parents brought me up with religion, we pray every day and believe strongly in God and heaven and hell. Reading this book just showed me that there are other possibilities. YOU CAN'T KEEP YOUR KIDS LOCKED UP FOREVER! Eventually they're going to learn about atheism and sex and stuff like that. I personally feel that it's much better to learn about these things when your parents are still around so you can ask them questions. if you're, say, in college and someone asks you "Hey! How do you KNOW that there's a heaven and a hell? Hmmmm? Why do you believe this?" And it would really suck if you had no answer. When I have kids, I want them to know why I have this belief and why religion makes more sense. PEOPLE NEED TO OPEN THEIR EYES!!! There are so many people and things that can influence children and make them question. LET THEM!!!!!! My parents let me question and it made my belief so much stronger. The only reason why someone might wait until they were older to read this book is so that they could better understand the themes and the message. And I guess some parents are worried about the sexual content, but seriously, when I read the book when I was little I didn't even realize that the main characters had had sex. I only noticed it when I re-read the book when I was older. So overall, this book is incredible and inspiring and A REALLY GOOD THING FOR ANYONE TO READ!!!!
What other families should know
Educational value
Great messages
Great role models
Teen, 14 years old Written byVOLCANOTACO900 January 3, 2009

The best of the trillogy.

I have read this book (and the whole trillogy for that matter)twice and this is the best of the series. So much action and adventure. I do however believe you should be 13 and up to truly understand it. There are a few curse words and violence is not much except for a few deaths and many explosions. For alot of you, you thought the main characters, and there is no sex in the book so to those of you who read all the Off adult reviews, it never says that lyra and will do that. They kiss, but I dont consider that to be sexuality. The adult reviews also say that they try to kill god. They dont kill god, but a false god called Metatron. There are instances where characters express that god does not exist but I know that is not true. It did not change my views on christianity at all. Truly a masterpeice. I think 13 and up can read this.
Teen, 13 years old Written byNightgal June 7, 2016

The book is ok but I have what to say

The book can get a bit violent and the concept about killing G-d is weird. Another thing I read some reviews and their all like oh don't read it cause Will and Lyra kiss (and also do something else) but ok they kiss and it has a weird way of saying how Lyra felt about Will but they never said they did anything else. Fine they do sleep next to each other but what are they supposed to sleep 100 miles away from each other or what! Also it does say the Angels are naked and so what it's not like the book is illustrated or anything. Over all the book is ok. Don't get why others are getting so worked up that Will and Lyra were doing something they could of or couldn't have done it's not like it says they did it!! Again the killing G-d thing is weird. But bothWill and Lyra are great characters and this book did not change my whole hearted faith in the one and only true G-d Hashem.
What other families should know
Great role models
Teen, 17 years old Written byQueenOfSerpents February 11, 2012

Stunning Book

Great book, I loved it and all my friends have read it, my English professor at college loved it!
What other families should know
Educational value
Great messages
Great role models
Kid, 6 years old February 21, 2011

this book is good

this is good book and you religous people should see that that is not the only possiblity and just because you think it doesn't mean its automaticly true. Not even if you have other people that still doesn't mean it's true. and horselover101 you almost cost me my privlages to read the book you idiot!!!!!
What other families should know
Educational value
Great messages
Great role models
Kid, 12 years old April 9, 2008

A must-read series!

WOW! This series isnt too bad or gory, wake-up with nightmares stuff. Its an amazing story and the ending of this book is amazing. Its "on" for ages 10+, although if you're highly sensitive to war and religion then wait till you're 11. I read these when I was nine and they are amazing!

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