Let's just get this clear - I will read anything. I am never not in the middle of reading a book. Whenever I know I'm nearly at the end of one book, I go out and buy another. I can't stand not having a book to read. Let's get another thing clear - I'm only thirteen, so adults reading this might not want to read my opinion - that's fine by me. Ok.
I have all the Harry Potter books, and my friend recommended Northern Lights to me because she said it was like a girl power equivalent to Harry Potter. I thought that sounded pretty cool, so I gave it a go. I realised that it is nothing like Harry Potter at all! Harry Potter is a *normal* boy in *our* world doing *normal* stuff with a twist of magic. The "His Dark Materials" trilogy is set mainly in *fantasy* worlds, but I suppose that you could say Lyra is kind of normal. Apart from the fact that she has a little Daemon called Pantalaimon. In fact, to her a daemon is normal - apparently seeing somebody without a daemon is like seeing somebody without a head - that's the kind of thing that makes this trilogy good.
This particular book is better than Northern Lights, in my opinion. There's a boy and a girl (Lyra and Will). They both come from different worlds - but they're kind of like parallel universes - there is an Oxford in Lyra's world, but it has certain features that are different, such as the aforementioned daemons and a certain Jordan College, which is not at the *real* Oxford Uni. Then there's ANOTHER world which is totally different. Things called spectres haunt and drown the souls of the adults, but the kids are unaffected. How creepy? And you can hear angels - and there are witches... It's all very creepy, which is v. cool.
I would recommend this to anybody who enjoyed Harry Potter, but thinks they are growing out of him. There are some really clever twists, and it deals with emotions and tragedy a lot more than Harry Potter does. I don't know why Philip Pullman isn't getting the coverage that J. K. Rowling is. In my opinion he's a much much better writer. It amazes me how he can know exactly how a little girl actually feels - and the books are so imaginative, you'd think he comes from Lyra's world!
And one more thing - look out for some seriously wicked names - Lyra Belacqua (or Silvertongue as she has now been christened) is a lot more exciting than Harry Potter, or Cornelius Fudge.
Ok, I hope you read it, cos I can't begin to tell you how good it is - you really need to see it to believe it!