Summary: Thirteen-year old Min longs to escape her neglected planet and explore the Thousands Worlds, much like her older brother, Jun. While Jun travels through the galaxy with the Space Forces, Min is stuck at home with her mother and aunties, hemmed in by all the household rules and chores. Min, who comes for a long line of fox spirits, can’t even shape-shift or Charm, thanks to her mother’s safety precautions. When word arrives that Jun has left his post in search of the Dragon Pearl, Min knows something is wrong, deciding to run away and clear her brother’s name.
My Rating: 4 /5 Stars
Middle grade is definitely a genre that I’ve been reaching for more and more. My future MG-reading will be inspired by Yoon Ha Lee’s Dragon Pearl, the latest release under Rick Riordan Presents. This Korean mythology-inspired, sci-fi, fox-spirit-filled adventure (yes I did say that all in one sentence) was such a fun read.
What makes Dragon Pearl truly unique is its Korean influence and mythology, as Min comes from a long line of fox spirits. From dragons to goblins, this magic system was so unique and I loved when Min used transformation and Charm. While much of the book follows Min’s journey to find her brother and the Dragon Pearl, I liked how we spent time in the beginning learning about her family, aka more fox spirits! And speaking of foxes, I loved the illustrations above each chapter header, with the fox as my favorite.
My favorite part of the book was Min’s time on the Pale Lightning, a Space Forces ship. I’d say Min spends a majority of the book on the ship, impersonating as a space cadet as she searches for her brother’s whereabouts. The Pale Lightning brings two of the book’s biggest secondary characters to the spotlight, Hanuel and Sujin. Spirits themselves, Hanuel and Sujin brought much humor and knowledge to the story. Sujin also added more diversity to the book as a non binary character.
The one aspect of Dragon Pearl that did prevent from fully loving the story was how much Min jumped from setting to setting. While it is an adventure, I wish Min spent more time in less settings. I really liked being in her aunt’s casino, and I liked being able to set into the Pale Lightning for a few chapters. I also had trouble following the significance of the ghosts when it came to Jang, the space cadet Min impersonates, and the fate of the Dragon Pearl.
I recommend Dragon Pearl for readers who especially love the adventure and whimsy within Percy Jackson or are looking for diverse stories within sci-fi and MG. I’m curious to see if Dragon Pearl will get a sequel, and I am excited for what Rick Riordan Presents brings in the future.
Thank you to Rick Riordan Presents and Big Honcho Media for sending me Dragon Pearl. By no means did receiving this book affect my thoughts or opinions.
Is Dragon Pearl on your TBR? What are your favorite Asian-inspired fantasy or sci-fi books? Share in the comments!