Book Report: Our highly scientific analysis of a book, from the characters to the writing style to the swoon. See More...

The Girl With the Dragonfly Tattoo

Steampunk, sci-fi and fantasy blend together for one helluva ride on an intergalactic steam train. Bonus: We have copies for you to win!

The Girl With the Dragonfly Tattoo

BOOK REPORT for The Mark of the Dragonfly by Jaleigh Johnson

Cover Story: Percy Jackson Hotness
BFF Charm: Platinum Edition
Swoonworthy Scale: 5
Talky Talk: Straight Up: Firefly Edition
Bonus Factors: Changelings, Steampunk
Relationship Status: All Aboard

Cover Story: Percy Jackson Hotness 

Confession: I completely stole this term from another FYA contributor (who happens to be a member of my FYA book group)! Actually, I believe her exact words when I showed her the book were “Sexy Percy Jackson”. If you’re going to put YA covers up against Middle Grade? I’m pretty sure Middle Grade is going to win most of the time, and Mark of the Dragonfly is no exception. Even the back cover is gorgeous and thrilling!

The Deal:

Piper is a savvy young girl of thirteen, who lives in Scrap Town Number 16 in the Merrow Kingdom on the world of Solace. Solace suffers from daily onslaughts of deadly meteor showers. The residents of the Scrap Towns barely scratch out a living by scavenging through what the meteors leave behind. Piper is on her own now, having lost her mother when she was young, and her father the previous year to a mining accident in the distant city of Noveen. She gets by with some scavenging, but mostly by using her talent for fixing things. Piper has an ability that’s almost magical when it comes to repairing machines. Sure, she learned at her father’s side but even he couldn’t match his daughter’s talents.

It’s during one of the meteor showers that Piper meets Anna, a girl she rescues from a damaged carriage that is clearly NOT from the Scrap Towns. When a man with a predatory gleam in his eyes shows up at Piper’s home looking for Anna, the girls manage to escape and hop a ride on the 401 steam train which will take them all the way to the Dragonfly Territories. On the 401 they fall in with the motley crew that runs the train, including a badass female captain with a cyborg arm, a machinist who seems to have more than his fair share of talent with fire, and a young head of security with gorgeous green eyes and the ability to shapeshift.

Can Piper and Anna make it to Noveen safely? And what awaits them there? 

BFF Charm: Platinum Edition



While the worldbuilding is completely original and airtight, it’s the friendship that forms between Piper and Anna that really keeps you glued to the pages. Piper has suffered so much loss and still has so much anger about her father’s death that she’s decided to abandon her old life in the hopes of a new one she can carve out for herself, only to realize that what she needs most of all is a family. Anna is a chatterbox with an encyclopedic knowledge of everything she has ever read. To put it bluntly, she is adorable. She is completely devoted to Piper and her boundless enthusiasm is a nice contrast to Piper’s snark. If I ever found myself aboard a steam train having to dodge villains at every turn, I would want both of them as part of my crew.

Swoonworthy Scale: 5

Oh Gee. I know you’re only around fourteen but you have the makings of an awesome Romantic Male Lead. And not just because you’re a Chamelin who can morph into a gargoyle at will and swoop in at the rescue, although that IS pretty damn hot. I love your initial distrust of Piper, which of course turns into budding feelings for her, and encourages her return budding feelings for you. Behold the awkwardness of first love with all of its handholding and tingles! You’re the type of boy I’d want my daughter to have as her first love and that’s pretty high praise.

Talky Talk: Straight Up: Firefly Edition

I really couldn’t help but think of Firefly while reading this book. Piper is almost like a miniature female Captain Mal in her boots and her leather jacket. Most of the people of Solace live pretty desperate lives, reminiscent of the Wild West, and so you’ve got your straight-talkin’ no-nonsense-havin’ characters like CAPTAIN JEYNE of the 401. That’s right - a possible direct Firefly reference! The pacing is swift and action-packed, with a heaping side of gun-slingin’ sass.

Bonus Factor: Changelings

The Google images that came up for "changelings" were either My Little Pony references or slightly...disturbing. Gee's Chamelin-shape is similar to a gargoyle, and I'll always take an opportunity to give a shout-out to this awesome cartoon!

Bonus Factor: Steampunk

There is a glut of steampunk novels out there right now and frankly, most of them aren’t very good. It’s easy to get bogged down in the worldbuilding at the expense of your characters, or have your world be so unoriginal that it’s not very interesting. Johnson does a great job of taking all these genres - fantasy, scifi, steampunk, adventure - and creating a story and world that will have you clamoring for more. (Sidenote - she’s working on a companion novel set in the same ‘verse! Hurrah!)

Casting Call:



Ellie Kendrick as Piper

I’ve got Game of Thrones on the brain BIG TIME right now, so please indulge me. Ellie is fantastic as Meera Reed, Big Sister Extraordinaire,  and it’s her fearlessness that makes her perfect for Piper.

Aimee Richardson as Anna

Oh Myrcella Baratheon. You are so sweet yet so naive. Your need for protecting makes you a great choice for the vulnerable Anna.

Isaac Hempstead-Wright as Gee

Bran Stark has gotten quite handsome as the years have progressed, and he can bicker with his siblings like no tomorrow. Whoever plays Gee will need to be skilled in bickering.

Relationship Status: All Aboard

Book, when I saw your beautiful golden green dragonfly cover you caught my eye. The promises of steam train adventures, political intrigue and personal secrets pulled me in, but it was your compassion for the lonely and the oppressed, your sense of humor and your Secret Reveals that really won my heart. I’ll be the Zoe Washburne to your Captain Mal any day!

FTC Full Disclosure: I received a free review copy from Delacorte Press. I received neither cocktails nor money for this review (dammit!). The Mark of the Dragonfly is available now.

Want to win your very own copy of The Mark of the Dragonfly? Leave a comment below, bestowing us with the craziest experience you've ever had on a train. (Mine MAY involve trying to desperately find a bathroom with doors that would CLOSE). Two lucky winners will be chosen on Monday, April 21 (open to U.S. residents only, sorry!) so make sure to check back in the comments section to see if you've won!

Amanda Reid's photo About the Author: Amanda R. is an East Coast girl living in California who will never stop missing a true autumn. She's a bookseller who specializes in kid and teen lit, the leader of FYA Oakland, and bakes a damn fine pie.