Kirkus: . . . a frank, good-humored recollection of depression, self-loathing, and eventual self-respect . . . Compelling.
New York Times: “Dragon Pearl” is a clever mash-up of Korean mythology and science fiction tropes. With crisp dialogue, a winning protagonist and a propulsive plot, the tale is enormously entertaining. And a heads-up to speculative-averse adults: If you decided Harry Potter was O.K., this is another one that might surprise you.
BookPage Magazine: In Elizabeth Bear’s richly textured Ancestral Night, there’s a hole in space-time, and the good ship Singer is going to see what’s on the other side. A sentient ship capable of complex thought, Singer is helmed by Haimey and her shipmate Connla. When Haimey boards a derelict ship the crew hopes to salvage and inadvertently discovers a heinous crime, the team realizes they’re in way over their heads. Bear gives her characters the space to develop on their own terms, never missing a chance to world build in the interim. It’s often by the slimmest of margins that our heroes avoid disaster, and only a thin layer of metal separates the “slowbrains” (read: things that breath air, according to Singer) from the vastness of space. But the profound connection between man and machine at its heart will keep readers turning the pages.
Booklist: This is a series entry that will satisfy fans and send new readers back to the beginning. Suggest to those who enjoy historical mystery series by Oliver Potzsch or Laura Joh Rowland.
Publishers Weekly: Jane Harris, the unreliable narrator of this exceptional psychological thriller from Rouda (Best Day Ever), has sequestered herself in her gorgeous oceanfront home in a gated community in Orange County, Calif., overcome with grief following the death of her college-age daughter, Mary, in an accident a year earlier. Appearances are important to Jane—perfect house, perfect family, perfect image of mourning. Now that she has decided to move on, Jane finds her husband, David, distant, working long hours and avoiding her while younger daughter Betsy is wrapped up in her high school graduation, which is just four days away. Against Jane’s wishes, David schedules a celebration of Mary’s life before Betsy graduates. Rouda gradually shifts reader sympathy for Jane with her “complicated grief” to disgust at her toxic need for control. Selfish and judgmental, Jane has more than just boundary issues as she monitors her family’s every move and email with the spyware she clandestinely installs. The stakes rise when Jane receives a note suggesting that Mary’s death was no accident. Suspense fans will be amply rewarded.
B&N Kids: Dragon Pearl, by Yoon Ha Lee, the most recent book from Rick Riordan Presents, takes Korean mythology on a wild adventure in space, and it’s tremendously fun!
There’s a lot happening, but it all makes sense, and all the adventures and dangers lead briskly to the final confrontation.
Min may not be a role model for principled rule following, but her brash fearlessness drives this story beautifully! As more and more tangles to her brother’s story emerge, and the stakes get higher, she starts to rely less on her magic and more on her intelligence, and her friends, in a nice bit of character growth. Her fox magic, and the magic of other supernatural types of persons, both living and dead, drawn from the rich well of Korean mythology, are seamlessly interwoven with the science fiction story of danger on board a spaceship in a vast network of planets, making this a truly delightful read for fans of every age!
Booklist: An openhearted debut that, like Jenna herself, has wonderfully surprising depth.
NPR: But this book is sneaky. As much as you want to think this is just some lightweight little confection made of robot fights and space murder and as much as All Systems Red wants to present itself as nothing but robot fights and space murder Martha Wells did something really clever. She hid a delicate, nuanced and deeply, grumpily human story inside these pulp trappings, by making her murderous robot story primarily character-driven. And the character doing the driving?
There are subtexts to be read into Murderbot that its experience is a coming-out narrative, that it mirrors the lives of trans people, immigrants, those on the autism spectrum or anyone else who feels the need to hide some essential part of themselves from a population that either threatens or can’t possibly understand them. Or both. And I get all of that because every one of those reads is right.
It’s the wonder of the character that something so alien can be so human. That everyone who has ever had to hide in a crowded room, avert their eyes from power, cocoon themselves in media for comfort or lie to survive can relate. It’s powerful to see that on the page. It’s moving to ride around in the head of something that is so strong and so vulnerable, so murder-y and so frightened, all at the same time.
Best news of all? All Systems Red is only the first of four Murderbot Diaries novellas. Wells followed Red with Artificial Condition, Rogue Protocol and Exit Strategy, all of which have gotten multiple electronic, hard- and softcover releases over the past year or so, with the Red hardcover being released this month after winning Hugo, Nebula, Alex and Locus Awards in 2018. Which is proof, I suppose, that I’m not alone in my love for Murderbot. That we are all a little bit Murderbot. That we see ourselves in its skin. And that reading about this sulky, soap-opera-loving cyborg killing machine might be one of the most human experiences you can have in sci-fi right now.
Publishers Weekly: As usual, McCammon dazzles the reader with gritty historical detail, vivid local color, and a cast of memorable grotesques, among them the Owl, who can literally watch his own back by disjointing his neck. Series fans will find this entry a thoroughly enjoyable extension of McCammon’s evolving period epic.
Hypable: When I say Dragon Pearl has it all, I mean it has it all. It’s difficult to place this book in a singular box, but rather than that being a deterrent, it seems to be one of its biggest strengths. Kids (and adults!) looking for something a little different will certainly find exactly that in Yoon Ha Lee’s novel.