Published: March 25, 2014
Genre: Children's Literature (Middle Grades), Fantasy
Highly Recommended for fans of Fantasy and/or Steampunk
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.
I need to preface this review by saying that this is not a book like anything I've read. It is written for the "Middle Grades" group and it is certainly unlike anything I would have read at that age. It is also described as "Steampunk" and, honestly, I'm not even sure what that is. I say this because I really have nothing to compare this book to.
However, I will say that I greatly enjoyed this book. I did have some unmoored feelings at the beginning of the book--what is this? where are they? sort of thing--but I'm chalking that up to my unfamiliarity with the genre rather than the book. I will say that this book had a definite dystopian feel, although I don't know if that is consistent with the Steampunk genre.
Piper is a very interesting character. Her motives are very clear from the start, yet she still grew as a character throughout the book. The other two main characters--Anna and Gee--were more static, but that fit with the overall story.
There were plenty of twists in this book and, while there were a few story elements I could see coming, the book kept me on my toes throughout my reading. Johnson also does a very good job of pacing this book. I was beginning to worry if this was going to be one of those books where everything ties up too neatly in the last to pages or, on the flip side, I'd be left with an open cliffhanger, but neither happened. While Johnson completed the plot well, and it did not feel rushed at all, there is still room for sequels.
And I do hope there are sequels. I can't say that this book has turned me on to Steampunk (I'm sure someone will tell me exactly what that is), but it has turned me onto the characters in this book and Johnson's writing. Even though it is written for a much younger crowd, as an adult I still found this to be a worthwhile and entertaining read.
I received an electronic copy of this book in return for an honest review. I received no other compensation for this post.