The Last Fallen Star by Graci Kim. Disney Hyperion, 2021. 9781368059633
Rating: 1-5 (5 is an excellent or a Starred review) 5
What did you like about the book? Despite being much loved by her adoptive parents and sister, and having a close relationship with her lifelong best friend Emmett, 12-year-old Riley Oh has never quite felt like she belonged – in her family or in her world. Riley is a saram, a non-magical person, in a community where everyone belongs to one of 6 ‘Gifted Clans’ descended from patron goddesses. Each clan has its own specialty; Riley’s parents are Gom (healers), and her sister Hattie will join the clan on her 13th birthday. Hattie and Riley devise a scheme to cast a spell for Hattie to share her powers with Riley. When the spell does not quite go as planned, Riley’s true origins are revealed and their family and the entire community is endangered. The sisters and Emmett set out on a quest to contact Mago Halmi, the mother of all creation, to make things right. Instead, they run afoul of the Cave Bear Goddess, who sends Riley to find the Last Fallen Star to save her sister’s life and restore order to the Gifted Clans community. Along the way Riley (aided by Emmett and a dragon scooter named Boris) meets fantastical creatures from Korean folklore, makes friends in unexpected places, and learns the surprising truth about who she is, all of which helps bring about a thrilling ending and sets the stage for the next installment.
This is a highly entertaining and exciting start to a new series from Rick Riordan Presents. Riley narrates her story with a contemporary tone filled with humor, while imparting a great deal of background knowledge about Korean mythology and the Gifted Clans. Readers will empathize with Riley’s struggle to fit in, and her efforts to take responsibility for her actions are commendable. A thorough glossary covers Korean words and phrases, pop culture references, and mythological figures and places and is written in Riley’s voice (referring to Mago Halmi as the ‘head honcho who made the world’). There is also a useful family tree on the front endpapers which delineates the three realms and identifies the six goddesses and their connected gifted clans.
Anything you did not like about the book? One-third of that useful family tree will be covered up when the dust jacket is attached to the book in library processing.
To whom would you recommend this book? It is sure to find instant success with readers of any other series from Rick Riordan Presents.
Who should buy this book? Public, elementary and middle school libraries
Where would you shelve it? Fiction
Should we (librarians) put this on the top of our “to read” piles? No
Reviewer’s Name, Library (or school), City: Leigh Russell King, Lincoln Street School, Northborough, Massachusetts.
Date of review: September 19, 2021