Review of Dragon Pearl, by Yoon Ha Lee

Dragon Pearl

by Yoon Ha Lee

Rick Riordan Presents (Disney Hyperion), 2019. 310 pages.
Starred Review
Review written December 2, 2019, from a library book

I’m finding that I especially like the Rick Riordan Presents books that don’t just fit another culture’s mythology into the formula of Rick Riordan’s Percy Jackson series, but instead does something new. Dragon Pearl achieves that beautifully – taking Korean supernatural beings and putting them in space.

Our main character, Min, is a fox spirit, like the other members of her family. Fox spirits are generally not trusted, because they are shape shifters who can Charm the thoughts and emotions of people around them.

When an inspector comes to their planet claiming that her brother Jun was a deserter from the Space Forces and tried to steal the powerful Dragon Pearl, Min knows that couldn’t possibly be true. And she decides to set off looking for him and bring Jun home.

Along the way, Min gets into a lot of danger, makes a bargain with a ghost, and impersonates a cadet from the same ship Jun supposedly deserted from.

I like the way in this book, supernatural beings are taken for granted, not some sort of big secret that only Min knows about. Two of the friends she makes are a goblin and a dragon – both of whom spend most of their time in human form, as she does. I like that the goblin is nonbinary, and Min naturally addresses them with they/them pronouns. Of course, as a shapeshifter, Min thinks nothing of taking either female or male forms at different times.

This adventure combines Korean mythology with outer space and futuristic high-tech gadgetry in a delightful way.

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Source: This review is based on a library book from Fairfax County Public Library.

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