I have not read THE GOLDEN COMPASS novel, nor have I seen the movie, but for someone who has always wanted to understand the hype around the series, but hasn't had time to read it, this graphic novel was PERFECTION! The illustrations are gorgeous and make keeping track of characters much easier than having to remember all of the names. I had no trouble at all understanding and following Lyra's story. It begins at Jordan College where she is under the care of the "Master" and overhears Lord Asriel speaking about "dust" to the other scholars. Roger, her best friend, gets taken by the "Gobblers," who are the General Oblation Unit, who we later learn are trying to find a way to separate children from the daemons (outward extension of their soul) to use the energy and dust created from the separation to find a way to get in to the "other world." This was where I got confused and had to do some digging, but thankfully, as the book goes on, we learn more about dust and this other world that is referenced. When Roger is taken by the Gobblers, Lyra sets out to bring him home but meets Mrs. Coulter (who is actually her mother) who is charming and buys Lyra nice dresses, but Lyra thinks that she is hiding something and wants to take the alethiometer from her, so she runs away. Lyra meets a band of "Gyptians" who tell her about her origins and who her true parents are and why she is being hunted by the General Oblation Board, she also meets their astronaut, Lee Scoresby, and an armoured bear named Iorek Byrnison. With these people, she sets off to the North (the Arctic) to find all of the children who have been taken by the Gobblers as well as setting Lord Asriel (who she learns is her father) free from the armoured bears. Lyra's team is a great way of showing readers that people of all different backgrounds (and species-haha) can work together successfully.
While the story was a bit hard to follow at times and required A LOT of re-reading, I thought the graphic novel was amazing. The pages displaying the aurora borealis were absolutely stunning. When Lord Asriel explains what Dust is to Lyra (and the reader) it is easy to understand with a visual explanation that the graphic novel offers. Overall, I give it four stars for amazing illustrations and a great story.