Title: Dragon Pearl
Author: Yoon Ha Lee
Rating: 5/5 Stars
Age Group: Ages 10 and up (Yay! I’m finally reviewing some more books that aren’t YA)
Synopsis: “Rick Riordan Presents Yoon Ha Lee’s space opera about thirteen-year-old Min, who comes from a long line of fox spirits. But you’d never know it by looking at her. To keep the family safe, Min’s mother insists that none of them use any fox-magic, such as Charm or shape-shifting. They must appear human at all times. Min feels hemmed in by the household rules and resents the endless chores, the cousins who crowd her, and the aunties who judge her. She would like nothing more than to escape Jinju, her neglected, dust-ridden, and impoverished planet. She’s counting the days until she can follow her older brother, Jun, into the Space Forces and see more of the Thousand Worlds. When word arrives that Jun is suspected of leaving his post to go in search of the Dragon Pearl, Min knows that something is wrong. Jun would never desert his battle cruiser, even for a mystical object rumored to have tremendous power. She decides to run away to find him and clear his name. Min’s quest will have her meeting gamblers, pirates, and vengeful ghosts. It will involve deception, lies, and sabotage. She will be forced to use more fox-magic than ever before, and to rely on all of her cleverness and bravery. The outcome may not be what she had hoped, but it has the potential to exceed her wildest dreams”(Amazon.com).
I have been a huge fan of Rick Riordan’s work for a long time now (like five years!) and I also have an interest in Korean culture which stems from my love of K-pop, so when I first heard about this book I was immediately so excited. This was a twisty, magical, space opera and I absolutely loved it. I want to delve deeper into each of these elements as part of this review.
Firstly, this definitely had its twists and turns. I’m very used to the YA genre, so sometimes if I read a book aimed for a younger age group I feel like the story goes by really fast (unless it’s super thick like Keeper of the Lost Cities!). This book definitely didn’t do that at all, though. I really didn’t have any clue exactly what to expect and it stayed that way until the very end.
One of the most important parts of any novel is the character development. This one had such an interesting way of doing it that it seemed to creep up on me. It might have been just me, but when the character commented on realizing that she had changed, I was shocked. I felt really in tune with her throughout the whole story and was just as happily surprised when I realized that she really had changed a lot without either of us noticing!
Secondly, this was definitely magical and I loved learning a little about Korean mythology. Mythology books are one of my favorite kinds, but this one really defied stereotypes. Oftentimes this kind of book starts with our protagonist thinking they are just a normal kid and then they suddenly realize they have hidden godly powers, but this one started out with her introducing herself as magical. I liked the way that magic was seamlessly intertwined with the story as part of the world as well as the space opera aspects. The fact that this is also a sci-fi book is just another reason that it, not only defied stereotypes, but my expectations as well. I admit I was expecting a bit more myth on the ratio between it and the space-based parts (lol that rhymes), but I ended up totally enjoying those parts.
I do highly recommend this book if you like sci-fi adventures or stories about mythology!