Tuesday, January 15, 2019

YA Book Review: Dragon Pearl by Yoon Ha Lee

Dragon Pearl
Author: Yoon Ha Lee
Publication: Rick Riordan Presents (January 15, 2019)

Description: 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.

This sci-fi adventure with the underpinnings of Korean mythology will transport you to a world far beyond your imagination.

My Thoughts: This middle grade science fiction story is based on Korean mythology. Min is a thirteen-year-old fox spirit who lives on Jinju - a planet that isn't quite terraformed - with her aunts and cousins. Because fox spirits are distrusted, her whole family keeps their heritage a secret. Her older brother Jun has joined the Space Forces with the goal of seeing all of the Thousand Worlds and perhaps finding a way to find the long lost Dragon Pearl which was used for terraforming in order to finish the terraforming job on Jinju.

One day an agent comes to their house and tells them the Jun has disappeared. It is thought that he deserted from the Space Forces in order to go on a hunt for the Dragon Pearl. Min can't believe that her brother would desert and is determined to go off to find him. She has all kinds of adventures from meeting an unknown relative who runs a gambling den using her fox powers to mercenaries who get involved in space battles.

Once she makes it to her brother's ship, she finds herself impersonating Cadet Jang who died in the battle that resulted in the capture of the ship she was on. Jang has become a ghost who agrees to let Min use his body so that she can find out who murdered him and get revenge. As Cadet Jang, she meets two other Cadets - Sujin who is a goblin and Haneul who is a dragon - and they become her friends. While most of the crew is human, the captain is a tiger named Hwan.

As she learns about being a cadet, she is also trying to find out more about her brother and what happened to him. She learns that many different factions want to find the missing dragon pearl. Her captain can see how it can be used in warfare because something that builds can also be used to destroy. She needs to find the pearl to keep it out of the hands of those who want to use it to destroy, but she also doesn't want to put it in the hands of anyone who just wants to use it to make themselves more wealthy by charging huge princes to fix planets.

She travels to the Fourth Colony and a planet where all the residents are vengeful ghosts who angered the disease spirits with Captain Hwan right on her tail. There she learns about her brother, finds the pearl, and has the course of her life determined.

This was an action-packed story filled with adventure. Middle graders will enjoy meeting Min and her friends. They will also enjoy reading about fox spirits, vengeful ghosts, and a pearl that can remake worlds.

Favorite Quote:
"Think about it, Cadet. If the Pearl could transform an entire barren world, give it forests and seas and make it suitable or habitation, it could just as easily destroy a world, turn it into a lifeless desert. That kind of magic needs to be controlled by the proper authorities, not sold to the highest bidder."
I received this one in exchange for an honest review from NetGalley. You can buy your copy here.

1 comment:

  1. I think this looks so cool. I don't know much about Asian mythology but I am still quite piqued. Great review!! I added this one to my GR list.


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