The Golden Compass is elegantly crafted with beautiful word choice, and I would definitely recommend it. The plot was gripping with many exciting twists and revelations along the way as protagonist Lyra Belacqua and her daemon, Pantalaimon, who's basically an animal manifestation of her soul, embark on a journey across their world to the North. There, Lyra intends to both rescue her friend and find her uncle. Lyra is such a fun character to read about, being clever and witty and ultimately someone the reader will root for and invest themself in through the whole book. The world-building, too, is really well done. Pullman paints a picture of a world parallel to ours, yet different in so many ways, and things like daemons, gyptians, armored bears, and dust are all incredibly creative. The one thing I would warn against is some somewhat anti-religious commentary (not so much in this book, but it grows more prominent in the Subtle Knife and the Amber Spyglass) that may make some readers uncomfortable.
Reviewer grade: 10