It's funny. I was all set up to hate this book. I mean, it's all about how the war in heaven went down with the wrong side losing. God is an evil dictator. As a member of the LDS church and a Christian that stands against everything I stand for. Except well.... It didn't. After all this book was a work of fiction. The writer might be an atheist and at some times come across a little preachy, but so do plenty of authors. And I've probably ready the concept of an evil God a dozen times. It's an interesting take on why injustice exists in the world.
What made me dislike this book was how Lyra, a strong female character that was a lot more interesting then most got completely subsumed by Will. She was the hero, but now she's relegated to the passengers seat. I don't want to say that male narrators are worse then female. Look at Harry Potter and Leviathan to see great stories helmed by young men. It's just when I signed up to this series I signed up for Lyra and everything that she entailed. Not for some second act boy who feels like a last minute decision. That might not be true, but that's how it felt.
You might be suprised that if I didn't like this book it got three stars. The one thing I can't knock is the depth of Pullman's world, and the complexity of his storyline. I especially like how he dares to take on difficult characters that the audience isn't going to love easily. That kind of courage and craftsmanship is impossible not to admire.
I don't know that I'd recommend this book, but I wouldn't warn someone off it either.