Review: Dragon Pearl by Yoon Ha Lee

I read and loved Yoon Ha Lee’s Machineries of Empire trilogy (and associated short stories) and I’ve enjoyed both of the other books that have come out under the Rick Riordan Presents imprint. I knew I needed to read Dragon Pearl from my love of those alone. Even with high expectations, Dragon Pearl did not disappoint me at all.

Dragon Pearl CoverRick 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. (GoodreadsGoodreads

I received an eARC of Dragon Pearl via Netgalley in exchange for an honest review.

Dragon Pearl is a gem of a middle grade novel.  If you have a kid in your life who loves science fiction, this is definitely going to be up their alley. It’s got ghosts, space travel, pirates, supernatural creatures and a healthy dose of fun.

Lee is fantastic at building worlds and societies that feel absolutely real to you, even when they’re entirely outside of your realm of experience.  I never felt like I was having information dumped on me, but I still got a full view of the worlds that Min traveled to.

Dragon Pearl needs trigger warnings for death of a family member, gaslighting, running away from home, gambling, spiked drinks, magical manipulation, threat of execution, and malevolent ghosts.

I personally loved the way that Lee worked the dragons and goblins into this story as fellow soldiers. I felt like I was always getting to know the characters, which I loved, even when they betrayed Min. The Korean mythology truly was the foundation of all of the worlds and characters we got to meet, and I can’t wait to see how Lee expands on that in future novels.

I loved this story, and don’t want to spoil anything. Dragon Pearl will keep even the most avid of readers on the edge of their seat for the entire novel. I will definitely be pre-ordering future books in this series to make sure that I don’t miss out on any of Min’s adventures in the future. I recommend you order yourself a copy right now from Amazon or Indiebound!


Title: Dragon Pearl

Author:  Yoon Ha Lee

Publisher: Rick Riordan Presents

Length: 304 Pages

Release Date: January 15, 2018

Rating: Recommended

Genre: Middle Grade Science Fiction

Representation: Korean main character, Korean-American Author

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