by Philip Pullman.
Note: His Dark Materials is a trilogy consisting of: The Golden Compass, The Subtle Knife, and The Amber Spyglass.
Quick recap: Lyra, a young girl, is fated to save the world(s). Her father is waging war against the heavens themselves, her mother is guilty of the most sickening of atrocities, her friend is trapped in the world of the dead, and another is causing the world's demise while trying to save it...and you guessed it: they're all somehow connected.
Quick review: These books surprised me by how easy they were to read (for a sci-fi amateur), and how completely they sucked me in. They are well-written, and though the second one doesn't really stand on its own, they're a really great trilogy.
Quick recommendation: I struggle with science fiction, obviously, but after I got over my daemon revulsion, I really, really enjoyed these books.