Parents' Guide to

The Golden Compass: His Dark Materials, Book 1

By Matt Berman, Common Sense Media Reviewer

age 12+

Nail-biting, violent fantasy has elements of mystery.

The Golden Compass: His Dark Materials, Book 1 Poster Image

A Lot or a Little?

What you will—and won't—find in this book.

Community Reviews

age 11+

Based on 23 parent reviews

age 14+

I'm rating the series age as a whole

The books have both good morals and bad morals. The good morals is that Lyra is a strong, brave, loyal friend who stands up for what needs to be done even though it puts her life in danger. But the bad morals are that it glorifies lying as a good thing and rewards Lyra by getting out of tight spots by lying. There's also alot of sexual tension in the later books as Lyra approaches puberty. There is violence and scary themes of having your soul ripped from you. A person's soul in the books exists as an animal companion called a daemon and it can change while a kid is a kid but adults animal daemons are fixed on one type of animal which is tied to whether they are good or bad. Bad guys daemons tend to be things like bugs, reptiles, wolves, and such. Good guys have things like rabbits and pine Martin's. It's a confusing book series to follow. The narrative has a constant theme of questioning everything and defying authority and a kid needs to be old enough to grasp the concept of being able to make sound questioning before reading this and also old enough to know that lying is not a talent to be praised. The book is overly detailed in places you don't want such as the violence, but it's under detailed in explaining the point of series clearly. It could take a few reads through all 3 books to actually get it because I had to read them twice to pick up the whole thing. Plus there's some very sexual tension in the book series as I mentioned before which is why I think that you should do no younger than 14. Maybe 13 if your child is particularly interested and is on the upper average/advanced intelligence. There's just so much going on and it gets very disturbing especially with the separation of childrens souls which results in death.

This title has:

Too much violence
Too much sex
Too much swearing
Too much consumerism
Too much drinking/drugs/smoking
2 people found this helpful.
age 10+

Is It Any Good?

Our review:
Parents say (23 ):
Kids say (47 ):

Nail-biting suspense grabs readers until they can't shake themselves loose from this strange world -- familiar, but definitely not the earth we know. The magical quality of Lyra's world sets readers' imaginations soaring. This place is so convincingly portrayed that the experiments performed on the children seem as gruesome to the reader as to Lyra. Readers soon accept her world, and they especially love this smart, rowdy hero. Forget about sweet, honest girls -- this scrappy street fighter uses all her wits to outfox the villains, and discovers mystical talents that she never knew she had.

For avid readers, fantasy buffs, and kids who are outgrowing children's fantasies, The Golden Compass is a great treasure. As this fierce hero battles the Gobblers, and follows a mystical device to a universe-altering confrontation in the Arctic, tweens and teens will be gripping this book with white knuckles long past lights out. Even reluctant readers may get hooked if you begin by reading it aloud. Since it ends in a true cliffhanger, the next stop is The Subtle Knife.

Book Details

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