Book Reviews

Review: Dragon Pearl by Yoon Ha Lee

When I was at BEA Dragon Pearl was on my top five of books I wanted to bring back. And I was lucky enough to score one! I mean, I did circle the Disney Booth straight for about half an hour. So my hard work paid off!


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 middle grade mixes Korean mythology, spaceships, and family. Above all, Dragon Pearl is about Min’s quest to find her brother. She never believes that he would desert the Space Force. Convinced she can find him, Min goes on a journey to find and clear her brother’s name. Over the course of this middle grade, the Korean mythology and space conspiracies are smoothly combined. Min makes a lot of mistakes. In some ways she’s reckless and doesn’t really think things through a hundred percent before hand, but this just further develops Min’s character.

She loves her brother. And she would do anything for him. Even stumble into a gambling den, encounter pirates, and run away on spaceships. She has a quest and a single handed determination. But along the way she learns things she never even dreamed of and meets friends who will stay with her forever. And as the book goes on, Min starts to see the actions of her behaviors. She witnesses the hurt and consequences of her quest.

Dragon Pearl tells the journey of a girl searching the galaxy for her brother. Along the way she uncovers this political struggle over the legendary Dragon Pearl. Min finds herself smack dab in the middle of conspiracies and the destiny of their galaxy. While she just wants to find her brother, the forces around her on a quest for power and influence. And the Dragon Pearl is a great power that can be used to destroy or create.

Will Min use her powers, and love of her brother, to right old wrongs, or as a bargaining chip? While Dragon Pearl certainly delivers a heart warming middle grade story about a girl doing whatever it takes to find her brother, it also asks us questions about what we are willing to sacrifice. And, ultimately, what side we will stand on. Who will we stand up for?

Find Dragon Pearl on Goodreads, Amazon, Indiebound, & The Book Depository.


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2 thoughts on “Review: Dragon Pearl by Yoon Ha Lee

  1. Yay! I’m reading this book at this very moment, so I only skimmed your review, but I was curious to see if the book kept going in the positive direction it started in and I saw your Goodreads review in my Friends feed. Had to jump over and say I’m excited that you enjoyed it!

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