Published: 1st may 2008
Genre: Fantasy Adventure, Romance, YA
Recommended Reading Age: 11+
‘Princess Taoshira is appalled when she is ordered to marry Prince Ramil ac Burinholt in order to unite their lands. And he’s not too pleased either. They hate each other on sight. So when she and Ramil are kidnapped, they fear there’s no escape – either from their kidnappers or from each other. Can they put aside their differences long enough to survive ambush, unarmed combat, brainwashing and imprisonment? And will the people they meet on their adventure – including a circus strongman, a daring rebel leader, a sinister master of spies and the best female fighter they have ever seen – help them or betray them to the enemy…?’
This is definitely a book for younger readers. I say that because the narrative had an edge of simplicity to it, as well as the characters, who were likeable, but child-like in their actions and dialogue. Dragonfly is the sort of book I would have eaten up at 11, as an adult, while I still love the genre, I was looking for more.
The general plot has been done before, but that said, this isn’t necessarily a bad thing (its the kind of plot that always draws me in, no matter how many similar books I’ve read like it). I can’t say I ever really feared for any of the characters, despite all the potentially dangerous situations they had to overcome. This is the type of book that you know will have a happy ending and any real violence will either be kept ‘off-stage’ or avoided. Aside from the token ‘bad guy’ (whose ambitions and devious plots were nothing overly original), everyone was entirely too friendly and willing to help Taoshira and Ramil, rather than use them for their own means. The romance was, again, very suitable for a younger reader, it was predictable but sweet and there was a reunion moment that I made me smile, but a lot of the dialogue between the two a little awkward and at times, cheesy.
I can’t say I ever really like Ramil, he was spoilt and his character growth felt forced. I also found it jarring that he read, to me, as a 13 year old boy (which perhaps would have worked better for this book) rather than an 18 year old man falling in love. Both characters are very naive, but this works for Taoshira, as she is slightly younger and has led a very sheltered life, hampered by strict rules and regulations. I did like her character development, however, and she grows into a confident young woman. Nevertheless, I never felt particularly attached to her.
What Golding does very well in Dragonfly is bring to life two very different cultures forced to work with each other. I very much enjoyed the rich detail of Taoshira’s land, not to mention their empowerment of women, clash with the male dominated, more open attitude of Ramil’s home land. The misunderstandings and unintended offenses caused by not knowing one another’s ways was fascinating to read and extremely well done.
Ultimately, there wasn’t enough here for me to sink my teeth into. but for a younger reader I would highly recommend Dragonfly, and give it an 8 rating. Despite the rather two-dimensional characters and obvious plot-line, Dragonfly captured my attention and kept my engaged. The exploration of the culture clash between the two main characters was the strongest part of the book and was refreshing to see in YA fiction. Worth borrowing for a quick, light read if the story-line appeals to you.