Saturday, March 22, 2014

ARC Review: The Mark of the Dragonfly by Jaleigh Johnson

The Mark of the Dragonfly
Author: Jaleigh Johnson
Publication: Delacorte Books for Young Readers (March 25, 2014)

Description: Fans of The City of Ember will love The Mark of the Dragonfly, an adventure story set in a magical world that is both exciting and dangerous.

Piper has never seen the Mark of the Dragonfly until she finds the girl amid the wreckage of a caravan in the Meteor Fields.

The girl doesn't remember a thing about her life, but the intricate tattoo on her arm is proof that she's from the Dragonfly Territories and that she's protected by the king. Which means a reward for Piper if she can get the girl home.

The one sure way to the Territories is the 401, a great old beauty of a train. But a ticket costs more coin than Piper could make in a year. And stowing away is a difficult prospect--everyone knows that getting past the peculiar green-eyed boy who stands guard is nearly impossible.

Life for Piper just turned dangerous. A little bit magical. And very exciting, if she can manage to survive the journey.

My Thoughts: Orphaned Piper is trying to eke out a living in one of the scrap towns that are near the meteor fields. After the meteor storms, people scavenge for items in the fields. Piper has a talent for fixing the unfixable machines that she finds. However, she doesn't know what to do when she finds a young girl who bears the dragonfly tattoo that means she is under the protection of King Aron. She has to heal her and keep her away from the man that she terrifies her.

Piper decides that the best thing to do is to take her to Noveen where the king lives. She is initially hoping for the reward which might give her a stake to start a new life. But it doesn't take long for Piper to become Anna's friend. Now her priority is keeping her safe and finding her a place where she can be happy and thrive.

Piper is determined to stow away on the 401, a train that passes through the scrap towns. But the train has a number of defenses and a guardian. Gee is a chemelin. In his human form, he is a thirteen year old boy. When he is in his chemelin form he is able to fly with his massive wings and has formidable claws to protect his train. Chemelins are also very loyal to their family and Gee has made the train his family.

The girls have lots of adventures on their way to Noveen. They are almost captured by slavers. The train is attacked by sky raiders. And the man chasing Anna who is an adviser to King Aron isn't about to let Anna escape him.

The story was a great combination of steampunk and adventure. The characters were well-drawn and interesting. Piper was particularly smart, caring, and brave. The world was well-developed too. I loved the growing friendship between Piper and Anna. I also loved the possible romance between Gee and Piper.

Jaleigh Johnson is an author to watch. I can't wait to read more of her books.

Favorite Quote:
For the longest time, all Piper had wanted was to escape from the scrap town and start a new life, but now that she had, she felt more alone than ever. Her father was still dead, and she was saddled with a strange, talkative capital girl with a belt full of coins who was being chased by a crazy man. They were in a town that, for all its pretty sights, was crawling with slavers, and the only hope they had for getting information was from a sarnun that Piper wasn't even sure she could find.
I got an ARC of this one at ALA and also from NetGalley. You can buy your copy here.

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