The His Dark Materials trilogy is a firm favourite of mine, first read in my teens. If you’ve watched the film, then please, please don’t judge the books by it as the film is a complete let down. The story, of a young girl called Lyra living in a world different to ours in many significant ways, whisked away from the college where she is brought up by servants and scholars by the glamorous Mrs Coulter, finds a way to follow her uncle, Lord Asriel, to the North, where he is doing work that will anger the Church, a powerfuil and shady institution. She learns things that change the foundations of her life, and embarks onto a journey into a new world, where she meets Will, a very important boy from our world who will be a key part of her future.
The strongest aspect of these novels is the characters. Every character is believable and well written, and Lyra is so far from the current trend for blank, nicey nicey heroines that it makes me want to sing. She’s so well written and so interesting that despite all her faults I can’t help but love her and love the way she grows throughout the trilogy. On top of this, though, the story is fantastic – it has action, philosophy and mystery in equal measures, with just a dash of romance. There are some young adult books that have to be read in your teens, when hormones and insane thoughts are rushing around your body, and you feel everything so intensely, but this is different, and I’ll gladly recommend it to anyone of any age.