21 April 2014

Review: The Mark of the Dragonfly by Jaleigh Johnson

The Mark of the Dragonfly by Jaleigh JohnsonIn Solace, a land bombarded by debris and meteors from other worlds, thirteen-year-old Piper, an orphan, supports herself by scavenging. She is also a gifted machinist, a skill she learned from her beloved father, and seems to be able to fix everything from watches to music boxes.

While protecting a friend caught out in a meteor storm, Piper discovers the unconscious body of a young stranger. Noticing the girl's tattoo that marks her as being under the protection of the Dragonfly Kingdom, Piper takes her home, dreaming of ransom money. But when Anna wakes up, her memory doesn't fully return; all she knows is that she must escape capture by the evil man who seeks her.

On impulse, Piper helps Anna, fleeing her desolate home town via the 401, the main supply train to and from the royal cities. Once on board, Piper's perceptions of her world, herself, and Anna are forever altered.

Jaleigh Johnson's The Mark of the Dragonfly is an action-packed adventure that introduces us to a world like no other. Although billed as middle grade steampunk, the novel's mix of dystopian, scifi, and fantasy elements and its strong, well-paced plot give the book a much wider appeal.

Young readers will like the bits of steampunk and magic and getting to know Piper, Anna, and their new friends and enemies. Older readers (both adults and teens) will be caught up in the setting and the politics of this strange new world.

This multilayered, genre-bending story would make a great book club selection, and not just for middle grade readers. Discussion topics include friendship, made families (as opposed to birth families), what makes us human, getting past first impressions, sociopolitical divisions, prejudices, and the intricacies of Piper's world.

The Mark of the Dragonfly is the first in a proposed series and thus sets up the larger story to come. Fortunately, it also stands strongly on its own, leaving us wanting to know more but reaching a satisfying conclusion. The novel's complicated and conflicted characters and unique world pull you in, and the hints of future battles, political struggles, and even romance will make you look forward the next dragonfly installment.

If you've had enough of vampires and werewolves but still like to escape reality, place Jaleigh Johnson's The Mark of the Dragonfly on your reading list. You'll love Piper's spunk and Anna's passion for reading and will be as amazed as they are at all they learn about the world of Solace.

I listened to the unabridged audiobook (Listening Library; 9 hr, 49 min) read by Kim Mai Guest. I loved Guest's expressive reading, great characterizations, and excellent pacing. The Mark of the Dragonfly would make a great family listen, perfect for a road trip or rainy-day entertainment.

Published by Random House / Random House Kids / Delacorte Books for Young Readers, 2014
ISBN-13: 9780385376150
Source: Print: review; audio: review (see review policy)
Copyright © cbl for Beth Fish Reads, all rights reserved (see review policy)


rhapsodyinbooks 4/21/14, 7:44 AM  

I have not yet dipped into Steampunk, but I like the idea of a female mechanic heroine!

bermudaonion 4/21/14, 3:00 PM  

Fantasy just isn't my thing but my sister might like this one.

Daryl 4/21/14, 3:20 PM  

had to google Steampunk right before i went to bn.com to buy it.. thanks

Vasilly 4/22/14, 12:18 AM  

I may have to put this one on my tbr list. Thanks for the review.

Leslie (Under My Apple Tree) 4/22/14, 11:40 AM  

This sounds like my kind of fantasy. I just received a print copy and am looking forward to reading it but you make the audio sound inviting too.

Julie P. 4/22/14, 7:33 PM  

I have this one in print but it sounds like audio might be the way to go!

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