Reviewed for Middle School, 2007

This epic trilogy has all the trappings of a young adult fantasy series, while delving into some very adult themes and ideas. In the books, 12-year-old tomboy Lyra and her animal daemon travel through interconnecting realities, filled with enough ghostly wraiths, shape-shifting creatures and flying witches to keep fantasy fanatics satisfied. However, Lyra's worlds are grounded in multifaceted characters and real metaphysical questions. This trilogy hits the mark for eighth graders ready to explore the challenges of growing up in a complex world. (Knopf, paperback boxed set, $35.85)