Let me start off this review by saying, you may have heard this book being compared to Graceling by Kristin Cashore, or Eon by Allison Goodman. But please do not go into this book automatically comparing it to them. If you do, you are sure to miss out on an awesome book. Keep an open mind and enjoy the ride. Now back to the review
I'm a huge fan of Korea & Korean culture & was excited to learn a bit of Korean myth, and let me tell you I was not disapointed. Ellen oh was able to immerse us into the culture without overwhelming us. It does take a little bit to figure out who's who in the begining, however that's just due to her introducing so many awesome characters. Then to enhance her book more she adds some Korean phrases which help us readers understand the culture a bit more. I loved how much this story revolved around family. In Korea, family is very important in their lives and it's showcased here. Having Kira travel with her brother, while protecting their cousin, the prince, allowed us an inside glimpse on their family dynamic.
One character i respected was Jaewon. I loved how much of a good friend he was to Kira, and that he was always there for her and i loved that. You can tell while reading that he really likes her but doesn't push it or really tell her, which shows his respect toward her. Speaking of respect, one person who didn't get mine was Shin Bo Hyun. I kind of liked him in the begining, because he seemed to really like her for her, & wasn't scared because of who she was. However, my respect for him went out the window a third of the way into the book. I think i hated him more than the actual villain in this story.
Speaking of those 2 boys, let's talk about the romance or lack thereof. I'm not a fan of love triangles being a big part of YA books, and going into this book, i was hoping there wouldn't be one, and my wish came true. The love triangle between Kira, Jaewon and Shin Bo Hyun is not your ordinary love triangle. Their relationships are never the main focus and i enjoyed that. Kira's character doesn't want to be in a relationship, or married to anyone; while Shin and Jaewon both like her but show & act on it in completely different ways. By the way, I'm sooo Team Jaewon =)
To me, a lot of books in YA don't really seem to leave the US. I've been wanted to read a book that wasn't set in America for so long, and just when I didn't think I'd find one, this gem caught my eyes. You are able to live in that culture through the eyes and actions of the main character. My favorite settings would have to be the Nine Dragons Waterfall, or the Dragon Spring Temple. Ellen Oh describes the scenes that take place here so well, i can just see it in my mind, like a movie.
Overall this book was an awesome read. The cover maybe a bit more simple, but it shows beautifully the quest at hand. It has a lovely red ruby in the middle (1st Dragon king treasure), and surrounding that stone is mist shaped like a dragon (Dragon Musado). Not all cover have to have a pretty girl on the cover, and I'm really glad they didn't do that for this book. Overall I'd say go buy it and see for yourself. =)
"I believe that one person can change the world. Whether he is the Musado or a girl with a tiger spirit. The monks teach that we mere mortals cannot question fate. But I say that we control destiny by our every action. Our power lies in the choices we make." Her father placed his warm hand on her cheek. "In the choices you make. Remember, stay true to yourself and do what your heart tells you is right, and not what is easy.”