Review: Dragon Pearl

“Cautiously, I nudged both of them with Charm. If they detected that I was a fox and ratted me out, I’d be toast.” page 93

Dragon Pearl by Yoon Ha Lee.
Riordan Presents, Disney Hyperion, New York, 2019, my edition 2020.
MG speculative fiction, 312 pages.
Lexile: 780L .
AR Level: 5.9 (worth 13.0 points) .

Min Kim is stuck on the un-terraformed planet of Jinju with her family, pretending to be human, performing an endless cycle of dreary chores, and waiting for the day she turns 15 and can join her brother in the Space Forces and finally see the world. Then a stranger arrives saying Jun is a deserter who left to search for the fabled Dragon Pearl, which 200 years ago was supposed to transform Jinju.

Dragon Pearl by Yoon Ha Lee.

My absolute favorite part of this entire story is that it’s assumed that space will be dominated by Asian culture, in the way that so very many speculative fiction authors have constantly assumed white dominance. Lee never explains away the setting, although he does keep it readable for all. I loved details like not looking a superior directly in the eye and larger worldbuilding aspects, like how important gi and meridians are in ship design and maintenance.

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