The first book that I read was Mark of the Dragonfly, by Jaleigh Johnson. My media clerk read this one earlier this year and raved about it, so I put it first on my list.
Piper is a young orphan girl living in a scrap town in a science fiction world called Solace. This world is bombarded by meteor showers, and scrap towns spring up around the meteor showers so people can scavenge items from other worlds that rain down in the meteors. Piper is a talented machinist who finds an unconscious young girl during one of the meteor showers. She quickly realizes that this girl has a dragonfly tattoo, which signifies that she is under the protection of King Aron of the Dragonfly territories. Piper realizes that the girl, Anna, needs her protection, so they stow away on the 401, a train that goes to the capital of the territories. On the train, they meet Gee, the security chief, and get caught up in adventures and intrigue that put them smack in the middle of tensions between Solace's two countries, Merrow and Dragonfly.
As I started reading Mark of the Dragonfly, I was very quickly reminded of the His Dark Materials trilogy by Philip Pullman. The meteors that open doors to other worlds reminded me of the multiple worlds that Lyra and Will use the subtle knife to travel between. Piper has similarities to Lyra too. An orphaned girl who longs to change her life and journey to other worlds. It also reminded me of City of Ember by Jeanne DuPrau. Both of these stories are about worlds that are struggling to hold on with steampunk elements. This past year, Michael Vey: The Prisoner of Cell 25, by Richard Paul Evans won the GA Book Award. It was a huge favorite of our book club, and I think Mark of the Dragonfly will appeal to the same kids who loved Michael Vey.
I think kids will enjoy the action and adventure in the story. Piper, Anna, and Gee have to survive being hunted by "The Wolf," getting attacked by slavers, and save the 401 from raiders on gliders. Each character has a secret, a special talent, that is revealed to the reader and to each other during these adventures. Piper finds the family she never had, and there is the promise of more to come. The story wraps up satisfactorily, but I definitely would love to read more about these 3 characters. The author does a good job developing the characters so the reader really cares about them, worries about them, wants them to find what they are seeking.
I have a feeling this book will be a top pick for this year's award.
If you like Mark of the Dragonfly, check out these books too!