Lori Anderson's Reviews > The Amber Spyglass

The Amber Spyglass by Philip Pullman
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Dec 04, 2007

did not like it
bookshelves: fantasy
Read in December, 2007

I am so glad I'm done reading this series. It's languished on my bookshelf for ages before I finally decided to read it.

I'm sorry I did.

First, I hated how the first book was written -- so many references to things that weren't explained -- I felt like maybe I'd missed a book or something, but no, this was the FIRST one. I hated the main character, Lyra. It just wasn't grabbing me. I slogged on.

The second book got better with the introduction of Will. I liked him. He seemed like a good person, with strong character, and I liked him a lot better than Lyra, who I still wanted to slap more than once.

The third book really left me feeling a little sick to my stomach. As soon as I read about killing God, I felt like abandoning the book. I'm not a Bible-thumper, I haven't been to church in ages, but I have a strong belief system and to me, that just felt like blasphemy.

Let me continue.

I read a lot of books. A lot. And in more than a few, there are all kinds of religions and beliefs, and they don't bother me at all. I believe in tolerance, I believe in not denigrating someone for what they believe. So if others felt that killing God was cool, ok then! I just personally hated it. Calling him out by name made it seem too real and personal to me.

I also didn't like the sudden intense love between Lyra and Will, although I saw that coming a mile away. They seemed too young for that mess.

Essentially, I was put off by these books waaaay before the God-killing. I never liked Lyra, hated her. I did like Will and Mary. But I found this series sooooooo tedious.

I think this is one of those series that you either love or hate. Check it out for yourself -- I'd be interested to know your thoughts.

Lori Anderson


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Comments (showing 1-42 of 42) (42 new)

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Claire Monahan You already know my feelings on this series, but I think your review puts what I was trying to say into a rational perspective :) I finished the series and definitely was an attentive reader through it all, but I agree. I was not left with a feeling of satisfaction nor great attachment for any of the characters; it was a sense of aversion and distaste.

Two thumbs up for your review.


message 2: by Lori (new) - rated it 1 star

Lori Anderson THANK YOU! After getting blasted for my opinion (and it's just an opinion) in another section, it's nice to hear someone felt the same way!

:-)


Shannon I disagree, Lori. (I'm not trying to blast you for your opinion, I'm just respectuflly disagreeing, by the way).

Just wondering, what was it about Lyra that made you dislike her so much?


message 4: by Lori (last edited Dec 22, 2007 02:39PM) (new) - rated it 1 star

Lori Anderson No, disagreeing is fine -- the comments I got at first were bad enough towards me that Admin deleted them!

I didn't like her because she was an insufferable brat and there was just something about her -- I wish I had a better explaination, but you know how you meet someone and can immediately like or dislike them for no particular reason, it's just a gut reaction? That's what I had with Lyra for some reason.


Alissa Not to be critical... Just to be curious: If you hated this series so much from the start, why did you continue reading?


message 6: by Lori (new) - rated it 1 star

Lori Anderson Alissa wrote: "Not to be critical... Just to be curious: If you hated this series so much from the start, why did you continue reading? "

I kept hoping it would get better. I tried and tried to read the first book in Stephen King's "The Dark Tower" series and hated it. Finally, I got through to where it started getting good (to me, anyway) and it ended up being one of my favorite series.

I hate to give up on a book and leave it unread.


Alissa Lori, I'm the same way with books. I hate to leave them unfinished, but I've had to do that on a couple occasions.

As for the Dark Tower series, I had the same problem with getting into it (a couple hundred pages all about a guy walking through a desert can only be so exciting). But then I got into it and enjoyed it...even when I learned the series probably wouldn't ever be finished (this was back in the 90s that I read the first few books). When the series picked up again a few years ago, I eagerly devoured the last 3 books. I did think the ending of Book 7 was kind of a cop-out, but a good series just the same :)

I take it you're a Stephen King fan, Lori...what's your favirote book of his?



message 8: by Lori (new) - rated it 1 star

Lori Anderson Alissa wrote: "Lori, I'm the same way with books. I hate to leave them unfinished, but I've had to do that on a couple occasions.

As for the Dark Tower series, I had the same problem with getting into it (a co..."


OH wow, hard to say which is my favorite. The FIRST one I ever read was "Salem's Lot", which I snuck out of my mom's closet when I was about eight. Loved it. I also liked "The Stand" (although I read a similar book, "Swan Song", I forget who wrote it, that was better). "It" was good but the ending didn't do it for me. I don't know! I have them all, like nearly all of them. Oh, "Duma Key", I quite liked it. "Gerald's Game", I hated, but it could be the timing -- I read it on a disastrous honeymoon with my first husband!


Alissa My favorite King book is either "Insomnia" or "Bag of Bones". Although I liked "Tom Gordon" too. Oh, and "The Green Mile"...that was great too (the movie didn't do it justice).


message 10: by Lori (new) - rated it 1 star

Lori Anderson I need to reread, now that I know that there are a lot of his books referenced in The Tower series. There's supposed to be a compendium out there that tells them all but I haven't been able to find it. Insomnia was apparently one of those.


Alissa The Dark Tower series was only briefly directly referenced in Insomnia (It mentions a boy named Patrick who is supposed to play a key role in The Dark Tower saga, although I don't remember any Patrick in the series...but maybe I just need to reread).


Leslie I'm with you Lori! Great review!


Pandy I disagree with this review, but I don't mean to be disrespectful either. This books in the trilogy are some of my favorite of all time and I love the characters, except for the rather 2D Magisterium. I'm personally, an atheist, so Pullman's ideas don't bether me, but the god figure who dies in this book is not a creator at all. There's more of an argument for Dust being what some might see as a conscious creator.


message 14: by Lori (new) - rated it 1 star

Lori Anderson Pandy, I appreciate your comment. I love to read respectful opposition to mine. I got called a LOT of names for this review (they've been deleted but oh they were hideous). But I do like to hear different viewpoints.

I definitely think that your belief system has something to do with how you view the books. And I think that because I never warmed up to Lyra, I couldn't enjoy it. So those two things mainly killed it for me.

I DID think Nicole Kidman was spot-on for her role in the movie, though!

This would have been a great book for me to participate in a book group with, I think. I'm sure I would have learned a lot.


Alissa Pandy wrote: "I disagree with this review, but I don't mean to be disrespectful either. This books in the trilogy are some of my favorite of all time and I love the characters, except for the rather 2D Magisteri..."

Hi Pandy
I too really enjoyed the series. I originally picked it up BECAUSE it was supposed to be so controversial (Hey, I'm a librarian. I'm a sucker for books of the banned and challenged variety). And I ended up really enjoying it (I found the whole series to be inventive and refreshing)and it's become one of my all-time favorite fantasy/adventure series to date.


Lucky Vaunda woow...

when I read your review about the 3rd book of Lyra series, somehow I have to post a comment...

about the god-killing theme, I definitely disagree that this is a blasphemy.. 'cos the "God" in this story is not "our God", but "the god in lyra's universe" that is so weak, being manipulated, etc etc, where man cannot decide for himself. But not "our real God" who'd listen to our desire and so on. So, I think that you should not see it in your perspective, but in the story's perspective. And for Lyra, I love Lyra, such unique brat she is... but, hey, to like or not to like is people's choices, right?...


message 17: by Lori (new) - rated it 1 star

Lori Anderson I agree, Lucky. I think this is a series of books that just polarizes readers. I started out reading it as a kid's book, quickly realized it was deeper than that, and didn't suspend belief quickly enough to just enjoy it -- so I'm sure the fault is mine.


message 18: by Elizabeth (last edited Aug 06, 2010 12:48PM) (new) - rated it 2 stars

Elizabeth It's not anyone's *fault* to not like a book! This series is awfully pretentious, and the hatred of religion really overrides any other message the author might be trying to convey.


message 19: by Lori (new) - rated it 1 star

Lori Anderson Thanks, Elizabeth. This series just really brought out a lot of polarized reviews (none that are still here -- one was so heinous and disgusting towards me that Goodreads deleted it). I love a good conversation about controversial books, just hate it when someone calls me an ass and a stupid ignorant dummy for not liking something (not that anyone here did!)


Alissa Lori wrote: "Thanks, Elizabeth. This series just really brought out a lot of polarized reviews (none that are still here -- one was so heinous and disgusting towards me that Goodreads deleted it). I love a go..."

Hi again, Lori. I too love a good, intelligent conversation about books. And, as a librarian, I often get to do that as part of my job (FUN!). There are books out there that are extremely popular with the majority that I dislike for my own personal preference reasons. The whole "Narnia" series or "The Hunger Games", for example. Absolutely hated those. But that doesn't mean I'm going to stoop to nastiness about the people who have a different opinion than me ('cause I'm not). And I'm not going to insist those books be pulled off the shelves. I've even recommended them on occasion to library patrons who seem to be looking for books of that description/genre. If I'm asked what I think of them, I'm honest, but don't go into detail. I just say something like: "I didn't really care for the book, but you might enjoy it". Point being, there's no one book out there that's going to be loved by 100% of the literate population. That's impossible. But the fact that there's so much available out there to appeal to so many different tastes and reading preferences is a wonderful thing!


message 21: by Lori (new) - rated it 1 star

Lori Anderson Yeah, I don't believe in banning books, although if my local library had anything to do with it, they'd burn a ton of them. You should have seen the horrified looks when I asked if they could get me a copy of "An American Psycho" -- another polarizing book!


Alissa Lori wrote: "Yeah, I don't believe in banning books, although if my local library had anything to do with it, they'd burn a ton of them. You should have seen the horrified looks when I asked if they could get ..."

Good for you! Defy those book burners and ask for more shocking and controversial books :)


William i find your oppinion quite strange. i go to a catholic school, and they were going to ban this series, luckily my english teacher is also one of the book reviewer for the catholic school board. partly because of her review, this book was not banned in our area. and i am glad, to hate a book because the author has different religious beliefs with you is quite irrational and intollerant.


message 24: by Lori (last edited Aug 12, 2010 05:01PM) (new) - rated it 1 star

Lori Anderson Hi William. I said I don't believe in banning books. And I do reserve the right to dislike a book because of the way *I* perceive it. I've disliked, vehemently, Christian books as well. For instance, I tried to read "The Shack" and had to skim it and couldn't even finish it, and it's all *about* God.

It's all in how I read things. I don't find that intolerant, I find it in fact tolerant, in that I don't pick up a book with a preconceived idea of liking it or disliking it. I don't dismiss certain genres of books blindly. In fact, I read the entire series when I already knew I didn't like the first book -- I gave it my attention and opportunity.

I'm sorry you feel I'm intolerant but I hope my explanation, well, explains a bit.


William i see your point, i agree you are completely entitled to your opinion but i'm just a little annoyed when people say they dislike a certain book and one of the reasons is because their religious beliefs are different with the authors. but yeah, if that's not the case for you, then i guess i was wrong.


message 26: by Lori (new) - rated it 1 star

Lori Anderson We're cool, William! I'm not totally one way or the other. My relationship with religion is really complicated. I don't fit into any organized religion.


message 27: by Maria (new) - rated it 1 star

Maria I agree about the killing-God-part. The only difference between your thoughts and my thoughts is that I'm a Christian, that's why I didn't like it.
I liked the first book, I really did. And I believe that if Pullman had left his main idea that was going to be my favorite. The second - not so much, it started to get too weird and I was about to stop reading, but I continued, I don't like leaving a book unread.
The third - it was too much. Too much.


Jonathan Swan Song is by Robert McCammon.


message 29: by Lori (new) - rated it 1 star

Lori Anderson Oh thanks, John! Loved that book.


Jonathan No problem, Lori. Just recently, McCammon's entire catolog of books was made available (with one exception) on eReaders. Also, Swan Song will be available from Audible.com unabridged in mid-November.


message 31: by Lori (new) - rated it 1 star

Lori Anderson I have a Kindle but I can't see anything like that. I suppose I'm a dinosaur! :-)


message 33: by Lori (new) - rated it 1 star

Lori Anderson You rock so much! Thank you! It's a rainy day here in MD so now I have some great things to read! :-)


Jonathan I'm glad I could help.


message 35: by Jody (new) - rated it 2 stars

Jody I feel pretty much exactly the same way about this series as you did - and especially about Lyra. I don't think I've ever disliked the main character of a book as much as her (apart from the boy in "Room").


message 36: by Lori (new) - rated it 1 star

Lori Anderson that's another book lots loved that I disliked.


message 37: by Jody (new) - rated it 2 stars

Jody I find that happens to me a lot. Oh well. :)


message 38: by Lori (new) - rated it 1 star

Lori Anderson The thing I really, REALLY hate? Is when I read a book by an author and it kicks MAJOR tail, but their next book is awful.


message 39: by Jody (new) - rated it 2 stars

Jody I often wonder if I'm missing out on some fantastic books because I've read a real dud by the author & don't read any more.


Jonathan Jody wrote: "I often wonder if I'm missing out on some fantastic books because I've read a real dud by the author & don't read any more."

I typically give a writer two books. If both are horrible, I won't read any more. There are exceptions, however. The Mask of Atreus comes immediately to mind.


message 41: by Jody (new) - rated it 2 stars

Jody I always intend to do that, but there are just so many books out there!


message 42: by Lori (new) - rated it 1 star

Lori Anderson Same here, John.


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