Northern Lights is the first book of the His Dark Materials trilogy. After this trilogy came third in The Big Read last year I knew I would have to read it at some point so I finally finished this first book over this last holiday. Only took me two days because I became thoroughly engrossed in the storyline.
I'm not yet convinced it deserves to come in third place (beating Hitchhikers Guide To The Galaxy no less) but I'll reserve judging too much until I've finished the other two books. On it's own, it's a well written fantasy set in a parallel universe. The other books takes the parallel universes theme further; I'm looking forward to how it develops.
As an aside, I remember seeing the northen lights on just a few occasions while living in Victoria, Canada. It's one of the most beautiful phenomena I've ever seen and it's something I'd really like to show Jenny and the kids one day. When and where is the best place to see it?