Tiger Honor by Yoon Ha Lee

Tiger Honor by Yoon Ha Lee. Disney Hyperion, 2022. 9781368055543

Rating: 1-5 (5 is an excellent or a Starred review) 4

Format: Hardcover

Genre:  Fantasy or Science Fiction

What did you like about the book? Sebin, a nonbinary Korean thirteen-year-old, wishes to join the Thousand World Space Forces and become a captain like their favorite uncle, Captain Hwan. As the youngest tiger spirit of the Juhwang Clan, Sebin cannot wait to prove themself to their strict (and demanding) family. However, when their acceptance letter arrives in the mail, the Space Forces also declare Hwan a traitor, accusing him of stealing a mythical magical artifact: the Dragon Pearl. Determined to uphold the honor of their tiger clan, Sebin sets out to embark on their first mission in the Space Forces. Before they can even get through orientation, they meet special investigator Yi and a suspicious girl named Min, who hurriedly inform Sebin that they must board the battle cruiser Haetae immediately, for unclear reasons. As Sebin gets settled on their first space vehicle and meets new friends, things take a dramatic turn when something on the ship explodes, all communication goes down, and most of the crew is knocked unconscious. Sebin has not completed their first day of orientation, hasn’t even been sworn into the Space Forces, and they are already on the most dangerous mission of their life. Can Sebin stop the intruder, figure out Min’s true goals, and save the crew of the Haetae?

Tiger Honor is the sequel to Dragon Pearl, and you don’t necessarily need to read the first book to enjoy the second. Min and Hwan, the protagonist and antagonist of Dragon Pearl respectively, are recurring characters, but you get to witness the events from a new point of view, one who admires the antagonist at the beginning. The story is a unique version of the space intruder-hijack-and-rescue mission, mixed with Korean mythology and magic, bringing a new flavor to space opera fiction. It’s a real treat from start to finish, and tensions really amp up when the Haetae is taken down and the rest of the book reads like an intense science fiction film. 

Anything you didn’t like about it? Sebin’s morality change, switching from supporting their uncle to going against him, is very sudden. It can be jarring or unbelievable if you wanted a bigger ethical revelation from the main character. They are going against the man who inspired them to join the Space Forces, after all.  

To whom would you recommend this book? Anyone who read Dragon Pearl by the same author, kids who love the Rick Riordan series, and anyone who loves either mythology-adventure books or stories that take place in space. 

Who should buy this book? Middle schools and public libraries

Where would you shelve it? Either Fantasy or Science Fiction. This book falls squarely in the middle. 

Should we (librarians/readers) put this on the top of our “to read” piles? No

Reviewer’s Name, Library (or school), City and State: Laila Carter, Boston Arts Academy, Dorchester MA

Date of review: May 17th, 2022

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