Tuesday, April 26, 2022

Review: Lia Park and the Missing Jewel by Jenna Yoon

 Ready for adventure? When I saw this cover, I couldn't help but start driving of tomb raiders and lost treasure. But I don't think that' what today's read is really about. There's undersea kingdoms, secret societies, a visit to South Korea, and even magic...oh, and an undersea jewel. At least, that's what I think it's about. 

Let's continue on and find out!

by Jenna Yoon
Middle Grade Adventure
352 pages
ages 8 to 12

MAY 3rd!!!

Perfect for fans of the Storm Runner and Aru Shah series, this thrilling middle grade fantasy follows a young girl who must venture to the undersea kingdom of the Dragon King in Korea to save her parents from an evil diviner spirit.

Twelve-year old Lia Park just wants to fit in. Her parents work with a mysterious organization that makes them ridiculously overprotective. Lia’s every move has been scrutinized since she was born, and she’d love to have the option of doing something exciting for once. So when she gets invited to the biggest birthday party of the year—and her parents say she can’t go—Lia sneaks out.

But her first act of rebellion not only breaks her parents’ rules, but also an ancient protection spell, allowing an evil diviner spirit to kidnap and ransom her parents for a powerful jewel that her family has guarded for years. With just the clothes on her back and some very rusty magical skills, Lia finds herself chasing mysterious clues that take her to her grandmother’s home in Korea.

From there, she has to make their way to the undersea kingdom of the Dragon King, the only person who knows where the powerful jewel might be. Along with her friend, Joon, Lia must dig deep and find courage to stand up for those who are weak—and become the hero her parents need.



Non-stop action mixes with spy-adventure, magic, myth and Korean flair to make for an easy, fun read.

Lia is training to join the mysterious organization her parents are already members of, but in order to pass the test, she needs to possess magic, which she doesn't seem to have. When she arrives home from a party to find her parents missing and an agent dead, she's thrust into the wild chase to find a hidden jewel to save them. Jetting of to South Korean, she discovers her magic has been hidden on purpose, and that the evil can track her, since she's actually extremely powerful. But magic won't be the only thing she needs to save everyone.

From the first page, it's a dive into an interesting mix between reality and a hidden, magical world. Lia does go to school and is trying to fit in with the usual humans. Her personality immediately catches edge as she rebels against her parents blatantly, and this trait does carry on through, making her kind but not perfect. And, honestly, a little hard to completely like. But she's got a lot on her plate as she comes into amazing powers and heads off to save her parents, despite everyone telling her not to.

Action fans are going to enjoy this one. It never slows and keeps tension high the entire time. It reminds of a spy story (think Spy School direction) but with a healthy mix of magic and myth. This gives it an interesting twist, although the plot does feel familiar. There are surprises along the way, and the Korean culture adds a lovely flair, too, even though there isn't much on the world building end. Descriptions remain very slight, keeping this one completely on the tension end. 

It's an easy read and will invite even more reluctant readers in.

And here she is...

Jenna Yoon studied Art History at Wellesley College and received her master’s degree in Korean art history from Ewha Womans University. She’s lived about half her life in both Korea and the United States. When she’s not writing, Jenna loves to travel, find yummy eats, play board games, and take skin care very seriously. Currently, she lives in Austin, Texas, with her husband and two kids.


Natalie Aguirre said...

I love the mix between reality and a secret world. I like those kinds of stories. Even though I have tons of books to read, you've made this a must read one for me.

Anonymous said...

They are fun! But I should warn you that it definitely hits the fantasy side, after it really gets going.