(review originally posted on my livejournal account: http://intoyourlungs.livejournal.com)
Spoilers? YES. You have been warned.
So, we come to the final, epic conclusion of this epic series.
The first thing I want to address here is God, or as He's called in this novel, The Authority. I was really surprised by how frail and weak he was. I mean, I thought he was supposed to be friggin' GOD. But no, he's this frail, dying, old dude. I did find it funny when Lyra and Will find him and he dies right there, and they're all "Oh no, poor guy", when he's pretty much the Big Baddy. I guess that crazy angel with the name that reminded me of a Transformer (sorry, his name eludes me at the moment and I can't find it on wikipedia) holds that role.
Seeing Lyra's parents redeem themselves was kind of nice, even if they were The Worst Parents EVER. They do save the world though by sacrificing themselves (while getting brutally beat up in the process), so I guess they were all right in the end.
Now, the ending. When I first read this book back in high school I was... shocked, to say the least, by what happens between Will and Lyra. I mean, I picked up that they had a crush on each other -- that was pretty obvious -- but it was the making out that really startled me. They're only 12-13 years old. However, after reading it a second time and picking up on the whold Paradise Lost parellels and whatnot, it becomes a lot less.. strange. I don't know. Am I weird for being startled by 12 year olds making out? Am I being a prude here? Kissing I can see, but the book describes them kissing pretty passionately. But oh well. It *was* really heart breaking when it was revealed they couldn't be together though, and that the one window they were allowed to keep open with the subtle knife had to be for the passage for the dead. At the parting scene in Will's Oxford, I actually shed a tear or two. Poor kids.
Seeing the growth that Will and Lyra made was also really touching. Thinking back to the first book, Lyra changes a lot over the course of the series without losing herself. It was such a seamless transformation that Pullman pulled off perfectly. You don't see as much with Will, but it's still there as well. Amazing.
All in all, it was a good conclusion to the series. This one is a little slower moving, but that's to be expected when it's clocking in at almost 500 pages.
Iorek came back in this one too, which made me really happy. :)
Final Verdict: This one is quite a bit slower than the first two installments, but it's got an epic ending that really packs a punch. This is seriously one of my favoritest series of all time, and it's one that I would re-read time and time again (though I don't get the chance to do that much nowadays with the teetering TBR pile.) I was really happy to have an excuse to re-read this series and I liked it A LOT more the second time around, which is saying a lot because I REALLY liked it the first time I read it. If you haven't read this series yet, please go and do so. I don't think you'll be disappointed. I plan on reading Pullman's Sally Lockart series, and I can't wait!