The Golden Compass (His Dark Materials, Book 1) - Philip Pullman

(recommended by Martha Gershun about a year ago)
For some reason I had thought this series was an old one, and was surprised to see that it was published in 1996. Parts of it read like something that was written at an earlier time; although I have to admit it may be because it's written by an Englishman and the language is slightly different from what I'm used to. Pullman creates a world that is similar to ours, but not quite: the place names are the same and you imagine the geography is similar, but there are also dæmons, panserbjørne, something called Dust, and a strange inter-mingling of philosophy, science, and religion. The story is captivating, and the writing equally so. It's marketed for "young adults," but I think it's something many adults would enjoy as well; it goes deeper than the Harry Potter series (as entertaining as those are), and as an added bonus, the entire trilogy is already published, so there's no waiting for the next book. I also admired the way Pullman was able to gradually reveal the meanings of words or plot details, so that the reader doesn't know much more than Lyra, the young protagonist.

Fed to jonathan's brain | October 29, 2002