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Dragon Pearl

by Yoon Ha Lee

Other authors: See the other authors section.

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3222157,272 (3.78)2
Min, a thirteen-year-old girl with fox-magic, stows away on a battle cruiser and impersonates a cadet in order to solve the mystery of what happened to her older brother in the Thousand World Space Forces.
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» See also 2 mentions

Showing 1-5 of 21 (next | show all)
I read this specifically because it was penned by Yoon Ha Lee. I'm a completionist that way.

BUT, I'll be honest, I am not particularly fond of most YA. It tends to be cookie-cutter plots and characters that feel like dough. It's fine if you like fat and sweet things that aren't that good for you but still make you feel warm and fuzzy afterward. And sometimes not even that... sometimes there is just the gnawing guilt and the shame.

Not here, though! I really enjoyed it. Yoon Ha Lee proves he can write a cool young Young Adult novel. I'd say the prime age is 11-14. It's all tricksy with a familiar blend of fantasy elements, magic in the way of charms, illusions, and speaking with the dead... mixed with space-opera elements of the 1000 worlds, big ships, lasers, and high-tech security. The mashup is, by now, quite familiar to us. All that's left is a fun story told well. :)

Ghosts, more ghosts, spaceship captains with wonky motives, stowaways, impersonations, and the overriding desire to find her poor maligned brother drives this novel, and nicely so. It's a great little adventure.
( )
  bradleyhorner | Jun 1, 2020 |
While I loved the basic premise and the representation in this book, the plot never really grabbed my attention because I never felt like the stakes were actually as high as they were made out to be - everything just kept going a bit too smoothly. ( )
  j_tuffi | May 30, 2020 |
This is a fantasy novel with space opera trappings. Basically the premise of its world is: what if Korean mythology was true... but it was the future and humanity had colonized space? Thus we have a fox spirit main character, and once she goes aboard a Space Forces starship, she meets tigers and demons and dragons serving among a predominantly human crew. The ship runs on flows of luck energy; if there's a ghost aboard, it loses battles because of the bad luck. That worldbuilding, the way the novel mixed fantasy underpinnings with sf tropes, was probably my favorite part of it.

It fits into the Star Wars archetype: Min is from a backwater planet and yearns for more. When she finds out her brother (in the Space Forces) has been branded a traitor, she follows him into space, using her fox powers to charm others and disguise herself. The beginning of the book is a bit one-thing-after-another in a way I found relentless: Min accidentally falls in with police she must play along with; she escapes from into working at a casino; she escapes from there into an under-attack spaceship; and so on. It all felt a bit too constructed, and there was little room for reflection. Things even out, though, once she disguises herself as a Space Force cadet, and makes friends that she must systematically lie to in order to continue her investigations. Her on the ship was my favorite part of the book, and where I felt it got the most interesting. In the end, things wrap up with a series of reversals-- not all of them expected, which was good-- but of course you'll be unsurprised to learn that Min triumphs. I didn't think it was great, but I did think it was fun, and unique.
  Stevil2001 | May 22, 2020 |
I liked the worldbuilding and its ties to Korean folklore, from different supernatural creatures to even geomancy-powered spaceships. ( )
  hatingongodot | May 3, 2020 |
Min is disturbed when an inspector shows up at her house saying that her brother has left his duty as part of the Space Forces perhaps in search of the Dragon Pearl, a powerful orb that can terraform worlds. Min is having a hard time hiding her magic. She's a fox and can shapeshift. Her adventure to find her brother takes her to gambling halls, encountering pirates and navigating life as a cadet in the Space Forces. ( )
  ewyatt | Apr 12, 2020 |
Showing 1-5 of 21 (next | show all)
(Starred review) VERDICT With ghosts, pirates, and a rollicking space adventure, there's a little something for everyone here. A recommended purchase for all middle grade collections.
added by karenb | editSchool Library Journal, Kat Paiva (pay site) (Sep 1, 2018)
 
(Starred review) A high-octane, science-fiction thriller painted with a Korean brush and a brilliant example of how different cultures can have unique but accessible cosmology and universal appeal.
added by karenb | editKirkus Reviews (Aug 28, 2018)
 

» Add other authors

Author nameRoleType of authorWork?Status
Yoon Ha Leeprimary authorall editionscalculated
Nevins, TylerDesignersecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Riordan, RickIntroductionsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
To, VivienneCover artistsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed

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This one is for Arabelle Sophie Betzwieser, my favorite Dragon
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I almost missed the stranger's visit that morning.

I liked to sleep in, though I didn't get to do it often. Waking up meant waking early. Even on the days I had lessons, my mom and aunties loaded me down with chores to do first.
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