Thursday, June 12, 2014
The Mark of the Dragonfly
I don't think I've mentioned it before, but during the school year, I volunteer with a young reader's book club. It encourages middle school and high school students to read a diverse set of books - everyone reads their own book and comes to the meetings ready to discuss what they've read.
Quite a few of them have read The Mark of the Dragonfly, and loved it. With that kind of chatter, I had to pick up the book for myself and see what all the hype was about.
An amazon summary, "For fans of Frozen, The City of Ember, and The School of Good and Evil, The Mark of the Dragonfly is a fast-paced adventure story about a mysterious girl and a fearless boy, 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.
[STAR] "This magnetic middle-grade debut...[is] a page-turner that defies easy categorization and ought to have broad appeal."-Publishers Weekly, starred
[STAR] "Heart, brains, and courage find a home in a steampunk fantasy worthy of a nod from Baum."-Kirkus Reviews, starred
[STAR] "A fantastic and original tale of adventure and magic...Piper is a heroine to fall in love with: smart, brave, kind, and mechanically inclined to boot."-School Library Journal, starred" AMAZON LINK OF JUSTICE
I feel like the amazon summary told you a whole lot of vague something.
Piper is a scrapper; she lives in a po dunk town that has a number for its name. As a scrapper, she goes out into the meteorite fields after a storm.
This world has meteorite storms that rain objects down from the sky that are thought to be objects lost from other worlds. There are different theories about the phenomenon that are explained through out the book (hint: you'll have to read the book to find out about them [/snark]). It's extremely dangerous to be out during the storms due to the ROCKS FALLING FROM THE SKIES AT HIGH VELOCITIES but also because a poisonous dust surrounds the meteorites when they fall.
Side note: I completely love that the book reminds me strongly of the saying 'Rocks fall, everyone dies' (although SPOILER, no one dies from a rock falling on them).
So Piper is friends with Micah whose family looked after her when her father left to work in the mines at the capital. Her father sent her money, letters, and sometimes drawings from the capital. One day, the letters stopped arriving and Piper knew her father was dead.
Micah is kind of like a little brother/friend all rolled into one to Piper. He's very enthusiastic about everything and wants to get the best loot from the meteorite showers.
One day, Micah hides out in the fields when a storm hits. Piper escapes the shelter and finds him in the field. They hide under a rock out cropping together and Piper spots a caravan that is also out in the storm. The meteorites start hitting and tear the field apart; after the dust starts to clear, Piper sees the caravan has been destroyed. Micah also has a head wound and is unconscious; as Piper looks around for a pallet to get Micah to safety, she sees a girl whose unconscious in the wreckage as well. Miraculously, Piper manages to get both Micah and the mysterious girl to her house. Micah's brother gets Micah to their house and calls for a doctor.
Piper tends to the girl who is a little bizarre when she wakes up. As Piper gets the girl some food, a strange man comes looking for the girl and seems bizarre and wrong somehow. The girl is terrified of the man so Piper refuses to let him in.
Piper and the girl escape to the 401 in the hopes of reaching the capital; the girl (whose name is Anna) has a dragonfly tattooed onto her arm which thankfully grants them safe passage onto the train despite the security chief's misgivings.
THAT IS ENOUGH SUMMARY.
So something this book doesn't say is that everyone is a human; it leaves itself open to quiet possibilities in the future by doing so. We've already been exposed to a couple in this book, but I'm excited what the next book will bring. I'm hoping this is a series that will take off because the premise that's been set up leaves itself open to political upheavel, wars, adventure/exploration, and a whole mess of coping with relationships/secrets and frankly, just being different.
I agree with what some of the young adults said in book discussion; they loved how Piper was logical about her choices and really evaluated her situations most of the time rather than diving in recklessly. It was refreshing to read about an intelligent young adult rather than the emotionally driven narrators that are running rampant in books. However, Piper's story really lends her to be more intelligent than anything, which again is refreshing. Eh.
All in all, it was quite a fun read.