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Friday, December 07, 2007

Book Listen: The Golden Compass

I've probably mentioned this before - but I don't read nearly as much as I used to read. My saving grace with literature has been the rising production values of audiobooks - a trend we might be able to attribute to the popularity of the Potter books and the many parents who opted to have a professional narrate it for them.

The audiobook of The Golden Compass tightens the distance between someone simply reading a book and a radio play. For one thing, the book is narrated by the author himself, Philip Pullman. Secondly, all the main characters have their own voice actors - so the story isn't handicapped by a singular talent who can provide a wide range but usually still stumbles with one voice or another. The voices here are done by London stage actors and it really shows.

Not to make this too much of a post-modern book review (as in one that spends volumes commenting on the craftsmanship of the spine) - The Golden Compass is also a great read. The alternate world Pullman has created is unique and interesting and manages to avoid feeling derived ... unlike how most books tailored for both young and old readers fall prey.

The controversy surrounding the movie, being released this weekend, is rather silly. Sure, Pullman did once say "my books are about destroying God" - but what exactly are the Christian groups afraid of here? Bands of children looking for nautical devices in order to take down deities? It's kinda like the boycott of Harry Potter because it "advocates witchcraft". Are there really a large enough number of people actually afraid of witchcraft to warrant a boycott?

Unfortunately it looks like the movie might not be worth the time to boycott anyway, as it sounds rather like Weitz's adaptation has managed to cut the daemon away from the story, or in other words sucked the life right out of it. If that's the case - I'd recommend a good listen instead.

1 comment:

Weefz said...

Yeah, the movie ain't great. It's better than Narnia and the child actors are quite reasonable but it lurches from plot point to plot point with no understanding of how you got from point A to point B. Or why you should care.

Glad to hear the books have some depth. I've been meaning to read them for years but then decided that for once, I'd see the film first so I don't spend the whole thing going "Wait, what happened to the... ?"