Dragonfruit | Makiia Lucier


Coming April 9th , 2024 from Clarion Books; 368 pages

Content Warning: Violence, death, child labor, kidnapping

About the Author: “Makiia Lucier is the author of Year of the Reaper, the Isle of Blood and Stone duology, and A Death-Struck Year. Her stories are inspired by history and mythology and have been called “brilliant” (Booklist), “moving,” (New York Times), “masterful” (Horn Book), and “breathtaking” (School Library Journal). They can be found on many notable lists, including the Kids’ Indie Next and the American Library Association’s ‘Best Fiction for Young Adults.’ Makiia grew up on the Pacific island of Guam, not too far from the equator, and holds degrees in journalism and library science. She lives with her family in Portland, Oregon” (Bio from author’s website).

Find Makiia Lucier on the following platforms:

“But as with all things that promise the moon and the stars and offer hope when hope has gone, the tale comes with a warning. Every wish demands a price.”

No one knows the consequences of wishes better than Hanalei of Tamarind. Forced to flee her homeland at eight years old, she spent much of her life alone in unfamiliar places, paying the price for her father’s wish to save her life. Despite years of isolation, Hanalei remains spirited and hopeful, constantly seeking more information about the mysterious seadragons that populate the surrounding waters. After being taken hostage on a dragon-hunting ship, Hanalei must abandon her plans and return to her homeland. There, she reunites with her childhood friend Samahtitamahenele (Sam), prince of Tamarind. Sam is also on a mission to uncover the secrets of the seadragons, as he hopes to find one of their wish-granting dragonfruits and use it to revive his ailing mother. The two join forces, sharing knowledge and resources, but will their newly restored relationship be able to survive the curse of the dragonfruit?

Pirates, dragons, magical tattoos, oh my! In a literary landscape where it feels like every book utilizes some mixture of the same popular tropes, Dragonfruit is completely different from every YA fantasy novel I’ve ever encountered. Lucier is not afraid to make readers grapple with difficult questions about power, humanity, and the risks we are willing to take for what we love. The pacing kept me engaged throughout the entire novel; every page drove the plot forward in new and innovative ways. Even with a large cast of characters, each was distinct and memorable. A few minor characters were less fleshed out, but the key figures were so dynamic that they compensated for it. Many female YA protagonists have similar personalities, but Hanalei is a fresh and exciting lead. I loved seeing her passion and compassion for dragons, as well as how other characters acknowledged and embraced her devotion to these creatures. The way Hanalei and Sam’s relationship was both helped and hindered by her love for seadragons was endlessly entertaining. I appreciated that the romance did not take over the adventure, but it felt a little underwhelming since the book was marketed as a fantasy romance. The adventure aspects are what make this book so striking! It rarely felt like the author took the easy route; the characters all had to endure a plethora of obstacles and experience significant growth to achieve their goals. Dragonfruit is a perfect example of a story that is just as breathtaking as its cover.

Dragonfruit releases on April 9th , 2024.

Pine Reads Review would like to thank SparkPoint Studio, NetGalley, & Clarion Books for sending us an ARC in exchange for an honest review. Any quotes are taken from an advanced copy and may be subject to change before final publication.

Ashley Amacher, Pine Reads Review Assistant Director & Lead Editor