Tiger Honor (A Thousand Worlds, #2)
"A zesty mix of Korean folklore, magic, and science fiction that will leave you longing for more adventures in the Thousand Worlds!"--Rick Riordan, intro to DRAGON PEARL
"With crisp dialogue, a winning protagonist and a propulsive plot, this tale is enormously entertaining."--New York Times Book Review of DRAGON PEARL
Sebin, a young tiger spirit from the Juhwang Clan, wants nothing more than to join the Thousand World Space Forces and, like their Uncle Hwan, captain a battle cruiser someday. But when Sebin's acceptance letter finally arrives, it's accompanied by the shocking news that Hwan has been declared a traitor. Apparently the captain abandoned his duty to steal a magical artifact, the Dragon Pearl, and his whereabouts are still unknown. Sebin hopes to help clear their hero's name and restore honor to the clan.
Nothing goes according to plan, however. As soon as Sebin arrives for orientation, they are met by a special investigator named Yi and Yi's assistant, a girl named Min. Yi informs Sebin that they must immediately report to the ship Haetae and await further instructions. Sebin finds this highly unusual, but soon all protocol is forgotten when there's an explosion on the ship, the crew is knocked out, and the communication system goes down. It's up to Sebin, three other cadets, and Yi and Min to determine who is sabotaging the battle cruiser. When Sebin is suddenly accused of collaborating with the enemy, the cadet realizes that Min is the most dangerous foe of all...
Sebin swears fealty to the clan and sets off to craft their destiny. However, nothing will be simple, and they will be thrust into a new world of intrigue, questioning loyalty, family, and their own destiny.
What I loved: This was such an entertaining and riveting story with a hefty mystery around Hwan's betrayal of the Space Forces. The world-building was really fascinating, especially around the tiger spirits and their structure and outlook. The blend of sci-fi and mythology was spot-on, and this combines elements in a way that makes for an action-packed and highly engaging read. The diversity of characters and representation is also really great here, and I appreciated that Sebin is non-binary as well as the reps among other characters.
The themes are really thought-provoking, including around finding yourself and defining who you will be outside of your family/origin, family, loyalty, friendship, and the power of honesty and doing what's right, even when it seems unclear. The themes will appeal to an older middle grade audience and young YA audience, as well as the fascinating world and elements.
What left me wanting more: As a very small thing, the book can be a little hard to follow in places when read as a stand-alone, and it would definitely be helpful to have read the first book before diving into this one. There are a lot of characters to follow and remember, but this gets better as you get deeper into the story.
Final verdict: With fascinating world-building and a unique premise, TIGER HONOR is an intriguing and entertaining middle grade sci-fi/fantasy read that I would definitely recommend for older middle grade and young YA readers.