Wednesday, January 21, 2015

Book Review: The Mark of the Dragonfly

The Amazon listing for this book recommends it for fans of Frozen and The City of Ember. I would have to agree. I know my middle son really enjoyed reading The City of Ember for school and this is a book I would happily recommend to him if he needs further reading selections. It contains a hint of a magical world, apart from our own, with its own set of problems and challenges.

Piper is a scrapper, an orphan girl who survives by scavenging for refuse dropped in the meteor showers her world encounters regularly. One day, when she is caught out in the midst of a storm, she comes across an amnesiac girl who bears the mark of the dragonfly, a mark given by King Aron to those who fall under the protection of the king himself. Before Piper can even do much to help the girl, a menacing man appears who claims the girl, Anna, is his daughter. Yet, Anna recoils and calls him "a wolf." Piper and Anna run from the man and board the 401, a train bound for the capital city. Because of Anna's tattoo, the two of them are given a place on board the train, despite the suspicions of the head guard, Gee. Piper is doing all she can to help Anna reclaim her lost memories. The chase is on and Piper and Anna must face unexpected obstacles on the journey before they can discover who they truly are.

What I liked: The author, Jaleigh Johnson, has created a complete new world and peopled it with interesting and colorful characters. Those characters grow throughout the story. I appreciated the message that we all have personal strengths and abilities within us and we must allow those to shine in order to be fully ourselves. I appreciated the compassion displayed. I thought the pacing was well-done and I enjoyed the unexpected twist of identity at the end.

What I didn't care for: The introduction of a new belief system framed upon the distant supervision of a goddess (as opposed to the Judeo-Christian God). This goddess never actually intervenes and yet is invoked numerous times in the speech of the characters. I found it mildly annoying to read over and over again the characters' comments like "for goddess's sake," and "the goddess willed," etc.

Overall, I felt it was a good book and certainly would be entertaining to a 10-14 year old reader. I read one reviewer who told of using this as a read-aloud in her fifth grade classroom and it received a standing ovation at the end of the novel. Now, I count that a clear success!

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