Rebel Without a Clause. Losing the linguistic plot…
By Sue Butler
Pan Macmillan Australia 2020
Attention word nerds, here is a book for you. Formerly a Macquarie Dictionary Editor, Sue Butler’s ruminations on the way that Australian English language has evolved and transformed is humorous and insightful. From metaphors, clichés and prefixes gone awry, she takes us on a leisurely journey to understand why people say the things they do and what they really mean.
A favourite of mine is the discussion around the word inflammable. Does this mean that it will or will not burst into flames? Too serious to get wrong, a new word has now been invented to ensure understanding: ‘nonflammmable’.
For someone like me, who gets all manner of sayings wrong, this was a treasure to read.
Northern Lights is the first of a trilogy written for young adults; now established as a best seller for adults. It has also been made into a major T.V. series. His Dark Materials is speculative fiction set in an unsettling parallel reality where every human has a daemon. To lose one’s daemon is like losing a limb: disfiguring and disturbing. Daemons are like a physical manifestation of a human’s soul and the two are inseparable in mind and body.
Lyra, the main character, is a child who is raised by scholars in a prestigious college. She does not know who her parents are and her daemon hasn’t yet taken a permanent form. This means that it can change between animal forms ranging from moths to wildcats. Because of this, Lyra is a prime kidnapping candidate for the Gobblers who are stealing children to perform all manner of experiments on the young humans and their immature daemons. Lyra is fierce, brave and determined. She embarks on a treacherous journey, leading adults, witches and armoured bears in search of the missing children and the mystery behind their disappearances. Along the way, she also learns the truth of her parents.
Northern Lights earned Pullman the Carnegie Medal in 1995 along with other accolades for the trilogy. Through the series, he expertly weaves fantasy, history and reality in a way that will have readers questioning whether some of his concepts are based on unexplored truths. With his detailed world building, this is a saga for a reader with stamina and an open mind ready to indulge in a ‘what if?’ version of reality.
What's this about?
As a lover of books and a teacher, I read widely. Here you will find book reviews of many genres including picture story, middle grade fiction, graphic novels, women's fiction, short story anthologies, non-fiction and anything else that takes my fancy.