Graci Kim presents us with a world of magic
Our The last fallen star review is a spoiler-free discussion of what to expect from Graci Kim’s first Gifted Clans novel.
As always, the imprint of Rick Riordan Presents gave us another spectacular novel, and this time it’s about the Hidden World of Korean Witches in Los Angeles.
Graci Kim is doing a fantastic job introducing this magical new world to readers of all ages, and I’m so excited to see what comes next.
“ The Last Fallen Star ” review
The construction of the world in The last fallen star is something really special. That’s a lot to take if you’re not already familiar with Korean mythology, but the author does an exceptional job of laying it all out in front of you. Each clan has a defined goal and it is exciting to see how they all work together.
The rules of magic are unique and cinematic, and after reading this book you will see the whole world in a whole new light. If you’ve had fun identifying yourself based on your Hogwarts home, then you’ll be happy to know there’s a quiz to find out what The last fallen star clan you belong to.
But it doesn’t matter how cool a world is if you don’t like the characters that inhabit it. Fortunately, The last fallen star is full of great people like you absolutely want on your side when you fight for the fate of the universe.
The hero of our story is Riley Oh, who can’t wait to see her sister Hattie learn about the Gom clan, whose motto is “Service and Sacrifice”. But as excited as she is for her sister, the timing is bittersweet because Riley is a saram, a person without magic.
Riley was adopted as a baby, and although her family accepts her as one of their own, the community as a whole doesn’t always feel the same way. All Riley has wanted to do her whole life is fit in, but being without magic makes you stand out like a sore thumb.
It’s safe to say we’ve all felt like Riley at some point – our differences make us special, but they can also make us feel like strangers. If there is one thing I want to clarify in this The fallen star review is that children and adults alike will understand why Riley is so determined to find a place to fit in once and for all.
One of the biggest aspects of this book is Riley’s relationship with her sister, Hattie. They are both best friends and their dynamics are exceptional. It’s such a breath of fresh air to see them supporting each other, even when they are struggling with their own inner demons.
Riley’s best friend Emmett also struggles because he hates magic, but when Hattie’s life is on the line, there’s no way to let this one down. Emmett bakes a lot when he’s stressed, and I always think of the salted caramel cookies mentioned in the book.
(Food is a major highlight in The last fallen star, so make sure you don’t take it while you are hungry!)
Each character in this book is three dimensional with layers of complex emotions and stories. Even when you think you don’t like someone – there’s a bully that’s sure to get under your skin – you find that it might not be as dry as you would like it to be.
Plus, none of these books are complete without a set of fun creatures, companions, and magical items that make the world more colorful and interesting. My favorite is Boris, the magic dragon scooter.
It is difficult to write book reviews without revealing too much, and this The last fallen star the exam is no exception. However, I must mention the wonderful job Kim did in telling us a story with twists and turns that took me by surprise.
There’s one in particular that I’m still thinking about, and I can’t wait to see how that plays out in the next two books in the Gifted Clans series. Every book that comes out of this imprint is stellar, and The last fallen star is no exception.
Needless to say, I will continue to read them as long as they are published.
The last fallen star by Graci Kim is available wherever books are sold. The last fallen moon (Gifted Clans Book 2) hits store shelves in the summer of 2022.
(If you enjoyed The last fallen star review, be sure to check out my Aru Shah and the city of gold review, too.)
Graci Kim interview with “ The Last Fallen Star ”
What was it like to find out that you were going to be joining the Rick Riordan Presents family? How did you celebrate?
Oddly enough, the morning I got the news, I had just had blood drawn and was already feeling a little weak. Then I was there, lying on a clinic bed, receiving a twelve week scan of my pregnant belly when the message arrived that I was going to be posted by Rick Riordan Presents. You can only imagine the emotions pumping through my body. A human baby and a baby book. That’s a LOT to absorb all at once! I walked around like a dizzy mule for a few days afterwards, not really digesting the news. But when he finally entered, I was so overwhelmed with gratitude. I couldn’t believe something so amazing was happening to my little old lady! Was it even real life? To celebrate, my husband took me on a getaway to a small seaside village in Hawkes’s Bay, New Zealand (land of food and wine), and it was the best weekend of my life.
What was the hardest part of putting The last fallen star together? Which was the easiest?
The hardest part was the immense responsibility I felt for making the myth and folklore of my childhood justice. I wanted to make sure that those who also grew up with a full diet of Korean traditions could see their stories portrayed in a familiar but fresh way. I also felt a great duty to capture the diaspora experience in a way that resonates with the community. We are not a monolith and diaspora experiences vary tremendously, but I wanted to work hard to capture some of the most universal elements of experiencing this complex and beautiful identity.
The simplest part of betting The last fallen star set included all references to food! I’m obsessed with food and eating, so that part felt like second nature to me.
What do you hope parents and older fans will learn from reading your book?
The messages that I hope parents and older fans can take away from the book are the same ones that I hope younger readers can take away. It is, first, that belonging and acceptance must begin within ourselves. Growing up, I thought I was sort of “less than” because I was stuck between being neither Korean nor Kiwi, never fully belonging to either community. It took a while, but I finally learned it was a wrong choice. Instead of seeing myself as two incomplete parts, I could see myself as two whole sets. I realized that in the end it was my decision to be a part or not. Second, I hope that as we follow Riley Oh’s journey, readers of all ages can remember that the real magic lives within each of us – in the actions we choose to take each day.
What can you tease us about The last fallen moon?
I can’t say too much yet, but I can say it The last fallen moon will take Riley Oh on a new journey outside of Los Angeles, and that it could be much further and much closer than you think… You can certainly count on a new team of fantastic creatures from Korean mythology too!
What’s the last best book you’ve read?
Too much! But there is one that I absolutely loved, and it just so happens that it will be out on May 18th. Made in Korea by Sarah Suk, and it’s a YA romantic comedy that feels good about two Korean American teens who run competing Korean beauty businesses from their lockers at school. They mess around like anything, but the thing with strong feelings is that sometimes they can turn into another strong feeling… One like love! It’s wonderful, and I can’t wait for it to be out in the world so it can find its place in the hands of readers.
If you could form an Avengers-style squad with ANY characters from the Rick Riordan / RRP universe (including from your own book!), Which ones would you choose?
Wow, that’s such a cool question! ** stuck fingers in a manic way ** Okay, listen to me. I would choose Emmett Harrison first from The last fallen star because he’s sneaky, bakes delicious treats, loves animals, and is loyal as hell – all key superhero traits, if you ask me. Then I paired him up with Nico di Angelo from the Percyverse because I think the two would get along like a house on fire! Then for some reason I imagine they both put together a motley team of animal companions from fambam Rick Riordan Presents, because, well, why not? We would have Bruto the Chupacabra puppy from Paola Santiago, Sargon the Lamassu of City of the plague god, and Miv (pronounced Mee) the sarcastic talking cat you’ll meet when Lori M. Lee’s book, Pahua and the Soul Thief, released in September. Finally, I would say the gang would be well done with a live chicken from the planet of the chicken factory at Sal and Gabi. What a crew, indeed!