I just finished reading the books in the trilogy, “His Dark Materials.” To say that they surprised me would be a bit of an understatement. I knew that the author had an atheistic bent, but I expected the books to be a bit more... well... subtle. This was most definitely not the case. These books were hit-you-over-the-head-with-my-oh-so-clever-message, rather than the Chronicles of Narnia hey-I'll-make-up-this-story-with-some-obvious-parallels-but-I'll-make-it-an-allegory. I was, obviously, expecting the latter.
I thought that, with the movie coming out, the books were geared for the elementary school demographic. However, with the first book ending with the main character's father killing her best friend via severing the boy's soul from his body, I began to question this. That's pretty brutal stuff. I mean, Harry Potter didn't even get into that stuff until book... what was it?... four, maybe. “The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe” only had Aslan die, but he came back.
The final book touched on some sort of after-life and killing “The Authority” (not God-- just some lying angel). The young kids, at the end, were called “Lovers” and it was stated that they were “In Love.” Now, I'm not sure how much time had passed, but the books started when both kids were 12 years old. Yeah, that seems a bit... wrong.
In the end, I think that I liked it. I was glad that there was no bloody, killing God battle scene. That just seems overly hostile to me. Besides, if the author's intent is to illustrate that there is no God, why would one have to kill God?
Updated: I was talking to a friend of mine (who's Muslim) and she was telling me that she hated The Lion, The Witch, and The Wardrobe. I asked her why and she said that the people Aslan's “army” fought were brown and from far off lands. She said that always made her sad (as a kid) that she couldn't be apart of Aslan's realm because of her skin color/ethnicity. I never thought of that. I suppose that just goes to show the unconscious discrimination/stereotypes that I possess.