Margot's Reviews > Exploring Philip Pullman's His Dark Materials: An Unauthorized Adventure Through The Golden Compass, The Subtle Knife, and The Amber Spyglass

Exploring Philip Pullman's His Dark Materials by Lois H. Gresh
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's review
Dec 27, 2012

did not like it
bookshelves: non-fiction, fantasy, young-adult, 2009, abandoned

I really enjoyed Philip Pullman's His Dark Materials series. He pulled together the ideas for the books from many classic literature and scientific sources, including Milton's Paradise Lost, a line from which inspired the title of the series. Lois Gresh promised an exploration through these inspirational sources and an analytical look at the many issues (metaphysical, spiritual, scientific, and otherwise) explored in the series. But I found that her book failed to continue the conversations that Pullman began.

Gresh says in her intro that although she at first intended the book for young adult readers (to match the initial intended readership of Pullman's series), she decided instead to write the exploration so that it would also be accessible to adult fans of the series. In this, I think she failed. Pullman explores some heavy hitting topics through fantastical metaphors in the series, and I expected the same from Gresh. But essentially all I read in the first 50 pages was summaries of quotes from the book where Angels or Dark Matter (Dust)--or whatever the topic at hand is--are mentioned. And then some summaries about what scientists have proposed or what the Bible says. There was not a single claim from Gresh in the whole thing; she was much too objective for my taste. And she went too in-depth when unnecessary and struggled to describe much of the scientific to anyone who hadn't at least taken a Physics of Astronomy class in the last year.

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