I have very mixed feelings about this book. I enjoyed it, but there were some parts that didn't ring true for me and that colored the rest of the story for me.
What I absolutely loved was a female protagonist that was both crazy brilliant and flawed. Lyra was more than a little socially awkward, but it wasn't out of arrogance. It was, as we learned, her response to feeling so very different from her peers. Her best friend Darren is the perfect friend, supportive and kind and always on her side.
The premise of the story was definitely unique and completely unlike anything I have ever read. In a nutshell, the central focus of the story is a highly technical, and very secret, piece of equipment with the potential to do great things. Or to destroy humanity as we know it. I love a book that makes you evalute your own perspectives and this definitely does that. Is it worth any price to eliminate disease, to end wars? On the surface, I think most of us would say yes. But the book poses some interesting side effects to those ideals. The potential for global economic crisis, the unforseen consequences to changes of reality. There is a definite hint of the Butterfly Effect that makes you question morality and ethics and I found this fascinating.
My only true problem came with some of the circumstances leading into the main thrust of the book. Our main character is a 16yo girl, the daughter of an astronomer and the niece of the director of a semi-secret space organization. It is a research facility with a number of highly classified research projects, one of which Lyra stumbled upon. And it was the circumstances that surrounded this that gave me issues. It is true that my perspectives may be skewed by the fact that I am a former member of the intelligence community, but it was just too easy for Lyra to find herself in a position to learn more than she should. It all started with a phone call she overheard at home, discussing classified aspects of her father's project. It is highly unlikely that any such conversation would ever take place outside of a secure facility. Lyra was able to gain access to areas that would never be possible in reality, nor would she ever be read into a project as controversial as the one in this book.
Things to love...
--Lyra. Brilliant, flawed and brave... everything I want in a YA heroine.
--Darren. He is the perfect best friend/boyfriend, supportive and trusting.
Things I wanted more/less of...
--More resolution with Lyra's mother.
If you like a good "thinking" book and some serious sci-fi, then this is a good read. The author clearly knows her stuff when it comes to outer space and there was some fascination science going on!