Summary from Goodreads:
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 is the first Rick Riordan Presents book I’ve read and I would have loved to read a book like this when I was a kid. I was solidly a Trekkie (TNG 5eva) and this space opera would have scratched all the right itches. Dragon Pearl has so many great things smashed into it: Korean fox -magic, terraforming, space opera, politics, secrets, a dragon (!), a gender-neutral foodie cadet, an emo ghost, and a plucky main character who disguises herself as a deceased crew member (because shape-shifting fox-magic!) to infiltrate her brother’s starship. It’s also a great introduction to Yoon Ha Lee’s world-building style – his Machineries of Empire trilogy builds its galaxy in similar ways. I loved how he didn’t “softball” the SF elements just because the audience is middle grade. Lots of fast-paced plot and a compelling main character. I couldn’t put it down. I hope there are more books planned for this series.
For serious: I got into the hot bath expecting to read a few chapters (starting on p76) while having my tea but got to the last page of the book to find that both the bath and my tea had grown cold! 🙀
Dear FTC: I had to buy my copy of this book because I am not cool enough to get an advance galley.