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Book: Dragon Pearl PDF Free Download | Dragon Pearl pdf Weebly
Type:: Graphic Novel
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 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.
I really wanted to like it. What I got instead was annoyance and irritation. And I’m not happy about that.
It’s a pretty fast-paced story of a quest of a teenage shapeshifting fox girl Min who leaves a backward poor world in a union of spacefaring yet magical civilizations (think foxes, goblins, tigers, shamans, ghosts) to find her missing space cadet brother Jun as well as a very powerful
McGuffin relic, the titular Dragon Pearl. Min has Charm – the ability to influence minds, as well as a perfect shapeshifting ability. It involves running away from home, hitching a ride on a spaceship, impersonating a space cadet and going to a ghost planet.
“You’ve been very busy, Min,” Seok said. “Over the last two months or so, you’ve run away from home, deceived spaceport security, gotten involved with a gambling den, been in a shoot-out with mercenaries, impersonated a dead cadet and an active captain, released prisoners without authorization, stolen an escape pod, and broken the Fourth Colony’s quarantine.”
Sounds fun, right? But the problem is – it doesn’t just read young, it reads *juvenile*. In that overly-simplistic, unsophisticated way that plagues a lot of stories written for children, and which the good books can escape¹. But Dragon Pearl does not.
¹ And no, I’m not being critical just because I am much too old for a children’s book. There are quite a few very well-written fantastical books for younger audience that nevertheless are wonderful no matter what the readers’ age is:
– Terry Pratchett’s The Wee Free Men and its sequels.
– Anything by Frances Hardinge – but especially A Face Like Glass, Gullstruck Island, and The Lie Tree
– Neil Gaiman’s Coraline.
– Howl’s Moving Castle by Diana Wynne Jones.
– China Mieville’s Un Lun Dun.
We are supposed to believe Min is resourceful and intelligent. Even a seasoned pilot grudgingly (of course) remarks on her smarts. But what I can’t help but see instead is a bratty yet a bit naive kid who is very lucky at overhearing plot-important things and – of course – just happens to be the best magic user in the family with an unexplained aptitude for engineering making her the most badass barely trained 13-year-old.
“Whenever I wasn’t sure what to do, I just trusted my instincts.”
She’s always unerringly right and wins loyalty of most easily because of simple reason of existing. And every adult is easily outwitted, the villain thwarted, magic relics easily handled and the government representatives indulgingly entertained and pacified. Her magic seems to know no limits and is ridiculously effortless — which made me really wonder why her fellow foxes with all those abilities of Charm are not running the world but are instead scrounging away in poverty and disgrace.
Everything is just so blatantly convenient. Every perfectly overheard conversation. Every conveniently written observation in a notebook in a room conveniently easy to break into, with a conveniently labeled map with coordinates included, again, so conveniently. A convenient ghost(s) the moment you need one. Convenient spaceships conveniently ready to take basically a hitchhiking kid without ever asking inconvenient questions.
“Fox magic was handy that way, if sometimes unpredictable—once you envisioned what you needed, it covered all the details.”
It’s just all too easy. Too simple. Too unearned. Too much zapping between locations for plot’s sake without any lingering connections to the ones we visited, or the characters we met there. Too little of character development, and all of them are pretty bland anyway. Too cheesy of an ending.
It manages to be both entertaining and yet un-engaging, which is a strange and unexpected combo. Ultimately, despite cool mythology, between all the annoyance and indifference about the outcome of Min’s quest (it just failed to engage me, and the stakes never seemed important) I found my attention drifting all the time, and putting this book down was certainly easier than picking it back up. And that just never bodes well.
2.5 stars in the end. Rounding up to 3 because 10-year-old me probably would have enjoyed the shapeshifting in space despite the flaws.
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 more 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.