I really enjoyed this one RTC 3 This is one of the best things I ve ever read Dragon Pearl is a Korean inspired space opera following a teenage fox spirit, set in a queer inclusive universe I can t believe I almost didn t read it just because it was middle grade if I hadn t loved Ninefox Gambit so much, I would have never picked it up, and that would have been such a mistake on my part It is middle grade, that s the target audience, but Dragon Pearl is the kind of book that can be enjoyed by people of all ages.I had almost forgotten that books could be so much fun I read mostly upper YA and adult books, and many though not all are always trying to be dark and tense and serious while forgetting that without the light moments, nothing in them feels meaningful That s not to say that this book is all sunshine and happiness, because it s not, but it understands balance and doesn t throw unnecessary violence at you It s the kind of book about an adventure that you just can t put down it follows a young shapeshifting fox who is constantly trying to trick people, and I loved every moment of it I would have loved this when I was twelve and I think I would love this again if I reread it in a few years There are books I loved because I read them at the right time in my life, but this is the kind of book I would have loved no matter what.Let s talk about our trickster fox, Min She s the kind of character I would have wanted to be at twelve, and now I both admire her a lot and want to hug her She s just trying to find her lost, maybe traitorous older brother back, and to do so, she ll get in increasingly dangerous situations, with the help of her charm and her ability to shapeshift.This is also the kind of book I needed but didn t have when I was twelve A middle grade book that not only has queer characters in it, its world is full of them in Dragon Pearl, being non binary is normal and people casually mention their polyamorous family Also, foxes can choose what gender to present as in their human form, and Min says that she chose to be a girl because of tradition I love reading about societies whose views towards gender are different from the western human default Min s sexual orientation isn t stated there s no romance and I loved that but I will never assume that the default in a book written by Yoon Ha Lee is straight and neither should you As I expected, I loved the writing If you re familiar with Ninefox Gambit and you re worried it will get as complicated as that I love complicated But not everyone does , this is much accessible and the worldbuilding is still wonderful and complex It s a story set in space which has exactly what I love about Lee s worlds technology, magic and the characters beliefs are linked, the lines between them always blurred You get something that feels a bit like science, a bit like religion, a bit like magic, and yet different from all of them.I never struggled to understand how things looked like And from dangerous gambling parlors to spaceships and halfway terraformed, dusty planets, everything about this book was beautiful.I also really liked reading about the side characters Jang, the ghost of the cadet Min is impersonating at some point, her friends, the female dragon Haneul and the non binary dokkaebi Suijin, and even Min s own brother Jun, when I got to meet him This is officially the first time I liked the main character goes on an adventure to rescue sibling trope, because I actually ended up caring about said sibling He was an amazing fox too.Also, that ending I almost cried Of happiness. Middle Grade Science Fiction at its BEST This rollicking space opera follows 13 y.o., Min, on her quest to find out what happened to her older brother, Jun.When an investigator shows up at her house, accusing her older brother, Jun, of deserting the Space Forces, Min knows there has to be some mistake Jun and Min had talked of joining the Forces their whole lives and going on grand adventures together Now that he is a part of that world, Min knows he would never disgrace their family by deserting.Forced to flee home, with the investigator hot on her tail, Min sets out in search of the truth with the hopes of clearing her brother s name Very quickly, Min is forced to rely on her intelligence and quick wit, as she eludes security, works in a gambling den, stows away on a ship, impersonates a Space Forces Cadet and so much Throughout her journey she discovers her own strength and makes some great new friends along the way.Min is a really well rounded, enjoyable character I grew attached to her and loved watching her development over the course of the book The side characters, as well, were great Humorous and likable, they truly added to the story, particularly Sujin and Haneul It was also great to see a non binary side character play such an important role in a Middle Grade story.The ending was fantastic, but really it was fantastic the whole way through Nice, fast pace, smooth transitions from different scenes and a strong build up to the end I think it left off in an excellent spot to continue on with the story I am definitely hoping for books in this world and with these characters even though I understand that may be a long shot The bottom line is, I really had a blast pun intended reading this book which, to me, is what Middle Grade is all about It should be a joy to read a Middle Grade adventure book and I was not disappointed with this one The writing was very, very strong I was swept up in the world and I thought the sci fi elements were top notch no surprise considering the expertise and experience that Yoon Ha Lee brings to the table.Thank you so much to the publisher, Disney Book Group and Rick Riordan Presents, for providing me with a copy of this to read and review I truly appreciate the opportunity I think RRP Imprint is providing a great service to our book community by offering a platform for diverse voices from around the world to share their myth, legends and folklore. congrats Yoon Ha Lee you are the first writer I ve seen to seamlessly weave nonbinary characters into everyday life in SFF 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, 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. 2.5 starsWell, this didn t go as expected Dragon Pearl was my most anticipated Rick Riordan Presents book because it s a space opera with Korean mythology elements However, I didn t enjoy this as much as I wanted to I was hesitant to round my rating to 3 stars because I feel I didn t quite like it at that level, but 2 stars was too low of a rating for it.The main problem I had with this book is that it s bland It s not exciting or mind blowing, and I feel mostly neutral towards it It s actually quite forgettable, and I don t really think I learned a lot about Korean mythology as I thought I would I m probably too used to Rick Riordan s books and it s unfair to make comparisons but oh well I also wished this book would be a bit funny but it wasn t sigh I listened to the audiobook and I m sure I would have dnfed this if it wasn t for the narrator It wasn t the best audiobook by any means but listening to it was soothing in a way.I can t say anything about the characters because I don t know them well enough, but Min was an interesting main character I like that she spends most of this book as an actual boy as I don t think I ve ever read something like it It was weird at the beginning when the narrator lowered her voice for Min but I grew to like it quite a lot THIRTEEN YEAR OLD MIN 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 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 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 Rud 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 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. The lasting prejudice against us annoyed me Other supernaturals, like dragons and goblins and shamans, could wield their magic openly, and were even praised for it Dragons used their weather magic for agriculture and the time consuming work of terraforming planets Goblins, with their invisibility caps, could act as secret agents their ability to summon food with their magical wands came in handy, too Shamans were essential for communicating with the ancestors and spirits, of course We foxes, though we had never overcome our bed reputation At least most people thought we were extinct nowadays. 2.5 starsSeems to me, Min, you make your own luck I entered this book with so many expectations why do I keep doing this to myself and, oh so hype, the premise seemed really cool and, well, it didn t help up.I kept falling asleep every time I read than a couple of pages I m not even kidding, it was Every Single Time I think I ended reading it asleep than awake at the end.It s probably just the fact that I had so many expectations, one of them being that the story was gonna start in space, and when it did not it became slow and boring I had understood that the whole thing would take place in space from the very beginning, but it didn t We start in Jinju and had to see the journey to actually get to space, which dragged than I would have liked I was pointed, though, that the fact that it took a while to get to space is probably very realistic, all things considered.Then there s also the fact that I had already some little knowledge of fox s spirits and all that I know, I know, everyone understands them differently and represents them differently and all that, and I liked the way Lee represented them, but it just somewhat clashed with the idea and concept I already had, which didn t help mattersGhosts were people, too, after all they just happened to be people who hadn t yet fully crossed over to the realm of the deadDon t get me wrong, not all was bad I think that character growth was some very fine work Min matures and learns about who she really is and what that means and how to balance that with the rules she s supposed to live with She started annoying me so much and ended getting a little of respect out of me.There weren t many other characters to grow to I honestly don t think any other character change during the length of the book The ensemble of supportive characters completed their purposes but did little Then there s also the fact that the plot twists were obvious and easy to see I don t think I was surprised by any of the events that transpired throughout the book Were they supposed to be that easy to guess I supposed the pacing was fine We didn t get stuck in one place too long and we were always finding something new Though I must admit that for me the first 30% of the book or so was extremely slow and pointless Even though it probably wasn tNone of it had changed, and everything had changed I think that the biggest problem I had with this book was that it didn t click with me The story is good as are the characters, but I couldn t connect with it as much as I wanted to and the writing the style didn t help me to get involved with the book It just wasn t a book for me Or, well, the author was not the right fit for me, because I do think the book is better than what I felt it This was not what I had been waiting A bit of a let down to be honest.RTC.I ve been really excited to read this one thanks to that wonderfully beautiful cover Yes, the cover influenced me a lot, but the premise is really interesting as well.Ever since readingAru Shah and the End of TimeI ve gained confidence in the works from Riordan Presents and, therefore, I think that giving this book an opportunity is only fair I m still nervous though.