Review: The Mark of the Dragonfly by Jaleigh Johnson

The Mark of the DragonflyPublishing Date: March 25, 2014 by Delacorte Books for Young Readers
Format: e-ARC
Pages: 400

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 only 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 haven’t read a lot of steampunk, but I do enjoy reading it when I have the chance, so I was excited thatThe Mark of the Dragonflywas a middle grade steampunk novel. While a lot of other commitments got in the way of my reading time, I ended up really enjoying this book. I was excited to read yesterday on her website that Johnson is writing another book that takes place in the same world!

Anyway, on to a discussion about The Mark of the Dragonfly. I found the world of Solace to be vivid and interesting. I loved the idea of forgotten items in other worlds falling through a rift of sorts into Solace. I also thought that while I didn’t get particularly attached to her, I thought Piper was a good character for this kind of story. I like her sass and how stubborn she was. (I also couldn’t help thinking of Anna as Anna from Frozen, even though I haven’t seen the movie.) I think my favorite thing about this book (outside of the steampunk elements) was Piper and Anna’s relationship. I enjoyed seeing how it developed over the course of the story. I also loved the descriptions of the different cities and areas that the characters traveled through. The ones where they actually spent some time were really vivid in my imagination and I really enjoyed how drastically different they all were from each other.

One thing I didn’t like, though minor, is that there are a lot of words used to describe animals and other things that are never really expanded upon to explain what exactly they are, and I found that a bit jarring. But that was a fairly minor thing. The only other thing I found a bit off was that Piper is supposed to be thirteen, and I think she says Anna is eleven or twelve, but neither character read that age to me most of the time. They seemed to be older characters who would sometimes seem to regress to what their actual age was supposed to be.

I am looking forward to more books being written about Solace and learning more about the world, but Piper and Anna’s journey was an interesting peek!

I was pre-approved for this title by the publisher via NetGalley. Thank you for the opportunity to read this book!

Rating: 3 out of 5 stars

Review: Don’t Even Think About It by Sarah Mlynowski

Don't Even Think About ItPublishing Date: March 11, 2014 by Delacorte Press
Format: e-ARC
Pages: 336

We weren’t always like this.  We used to be average New York City high school sophomores.  Until our homeroom went for flu shots.  We were prepared for some side effects.  Maybe a headache.  Maybe a sore arm.  We definitely didn’t expect to get telepathic powers.  But suddenly we could hear what everyone was thinking.  Our friends.  Our parents.  Our crushes.  Now we all know that Tess is in love with her best friend, Teddy.  That Mackenzie cheated on Cooper.  That, um, Nurse Carmichael used to be a stripper.

Since we’ve kept our freakish skill a secret, we can sit next to the class brainiac and ace our tests.  We can dump our boyfriends right before they dump us.  We know what our friends really think of our jeans, our breath, our new bangs.  We always know what’s coming.  Some of us will thrive.  Some of us will crack.  None of us will ever be the same.

So stop obsessing about your ex.  We’re always listening.

Don’t Even Think About It isn’t a book I would have picked up on my own, but I decided to give it a shot since I was pre-approved for it through NetGalley. It ended up being a pretty fun read, though I did have a few big issues with it.

My biggest problem with the book was the number of characters that are covered in it. I liked the experimentation with the “we” perspective, and felt it worked to an extent, but I don’t think the book was long enough to cover all the characters very well. I don’t know that it necessarily meant to, but that was what I expected going in, since the book points out early on that all of these kids are telling the story, and I definitely didn’t feel like that ended up being the case. There were a few who got quite a bit of page time, and then others were brought up now and again, or mentioned a couple of times and then seemingly forgotten altogether. I also found it kind of funny/strange that despite the huge number of characters, there weren’t any that I could have related to as a teenager. On top of that, some of the characters were pretty stereotypical, and the book didn’t really dispel all/many of those stereotypes, which I found to be pretty disappointing. The book’s premise could have done a lot with that kind of thing, but the author didn’t really cover it that much.

I didn’t really buy the science of how the telepathy worked, but I tried to make myself look past that and just take it for what it was and enjoy the story, and while it didn’t entirely work, I managed well enough. I spent a lot of the book wondering what it was all going to lead up to, and I wasn’t super invested in the kids’ lives at first and what their little personal dramas were, but it all slowly grew on me.

I didn’t get super attached to any of the characters other than Cooper, but I liked him a lot. The book also made me think about what life would be like with ESP, and how it would make me feel if I could hear others’ thoughts or if they could hear mine. It’s definitely not something I’d want! But yeah, I wasn’t expecting this book to make me think about something like that, but it did, and I liked that about it. I was reading it before my shift at work today and thought about it until I could get back to it, so it has that going for it!

Overall, I kind of waffled between a 2.5 and a 3 for this one, but I settled on a 3. The book took a while to build up for me, but I didn’t want to put it down in the second half. There was one part that I found to be fairly predictable, but overall the book was enjoyable despite my issues with it, and in the end I’m glad I gave it a try.

I was pre-approved for this title by the publisher via NetGalley. Thank you for the opportunity to read this book!

Rating: 3 out of 5 stars