A few days ago I finished reading the first book of the trilogy entitled His Dark Materials by Philip Pullman, The Golden Compass. Here's Mr. Pullman:
First of all, this book series, and most of Pullman's work, from what I gather, is geared towards children. When I picked up the book and began reading I found that I sometimes had to consciously bear that fact in mind. For a children's book, however, the story is pretty deep and fairly well developed - almost in the ranks with that of Harry Potter; almost.
Lyra is the main character, and she is quite a little spit-fire. I found that I liked her spunk, but not her lying habits so much; she didn't grow on my quite as much as I think the author had aimed for, but then, again, I am an adult and a child would be much more savvy and embracing towards Lyra.
I wish I'd read the book as a young girl because the imagination and fantasy was definitely present, I just felt like I couldn't quite tap into it. However, I can tap into that when I read HP, so it must be due to other things about the book or author. There were a few twists at the end which sort of left a bad taste in my mouth and declined my interest in continuing the trilogy with the second book. We'll see about that.
One thing I really enjoyed about Pullman's world in the novel (and series, I'm presuming) was that of the dæmons. Dæmons are animal forms of a human's soul; one can talk to them, listen to them, etc. Dæmons are a human's best friend; they are one being emotionally and psychologically. When the humans are children their dæmons can shift animal shapes, and the animals mimic the child's (and later, the adult's - though by then the animal is permanent) mood. It was very fascinating to see how characters were thinking/feeling based on the descriptions of their dæmons. I really liked the dæmons concept. I wonder what life would be like if dæmons were real. Everyone would have one. Almost all of the time the dæmon is the opposite sex of its respective human. People can only physically distance themselves from their dæmons by so much or there is a terrific emotional and physical strain on both the human and the dæmon. When a dæmon dies the human often does, too. When a human dies the dæmon, too, deceases. It is taboo for a human to touch another's dæmons, although dæmons may touch one another. Pullman created a very interesting culture of humans and dæmons.
So now I've added The Golden Compass to my Netflix queue; it's next up. Nicole Kidman, Sam Elliot, Daniel Craig and Eva Green are all in the cast, and I've heard decent things about the movie despite its 3.5/5 star rating.