Tuesday, December 31, 2013

Review: Eon: Dragoneye Reborn (Goodman)

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AUTHOR: Alison Goodman
SERIES: Eon, book 1
PUBLISHER: Viking Juvenile
PUBLICATION DATE: December 26, 2008
ISBN: 9780670062270
PAGES: 531
SOURCE: public library Overdrive
GENRE: fantasy
GIVE IT TO: upper-MS, HS
SUMMARY: Along with the help of her master, a former Dragoneye, sixteen-year old orphan Eona disguises herself as a 12-year old boy in order to have a chance to become a Dragoneye.

REVIEW: Holy long book, Batman! I've had my eye on Eon for years in my library, and I finally sat down and read it. It is definitely well-written, but must admit I skimmed some of the middle parts. Excellent world-building, but the action scenes are spaced between a mountain of info-dumping. I'm also sad that there was no romance, but that really is probably better since most of the characters think Eona is a castrated 12-year old boy.

With plenty of East Asian influences such as the Chinese Zodiac, dragons, and hua, Eon's worldbuilding is absolutely incredible. Possibly due to some boredom with the plot, I kept stopping to research things like the Chinese Zodiac and hua and eunuchs. All very fascinating, and I'm ready for a Chinese New Year category on Jeopardy now!

Characters are well-done, but I wasn't sure how much I actually liked Eona. She's tough, no doubt, but she seems way too eager to throw away her femininity in favor of being a boy. Does she really expect to keep this charade going for the rest of her life? She's done it this long, I suppose! Eona isn't the only gender-bending character; there is another very important character (who I LOVED!)--a man living life as a woman. This self-aware individual says that "this is just who she is" and "she's always been this way." The gender identity stuff didn't bother me so much, but it will raise some eyebrows in more conservative circles.

There is one part at the end that I REALLY did not like. Mild spoiler here--highlight to see...One particular "bad" character is given a reprieve that he absolutely did not deserve. After all his misdeeds and abhorrent treatment of Eon (assault, attempted rape, attempted murder), I would think she would want to dispatch him the first chance she got. Instead, she gives him a chance to escape with her. Huh?

THE BOTTOM LINE: Excellent worldbuilding. Well-drawn (but sometimes unlikeable) characters. Overlong. Horrible ending. I can see why Eon gets high praise from fantasy readers, but it isn't so much my cup of tea.

STATUS IN MY LIBRARY: We have it. Librarians in very conservative schools might want to read this one first due to gender identity, cross-dressing, and two near-rape scenes.

READALIKES: Seraphina (Hartman); Leviathan (Westerfeld); Shadow & Bone (Bardugo)

RATING BREAKDOWN:
  • Overall: 3/5
  • Creativity: 5/5
  • Characters: 4/5
  • Engrossing: 2/5
  • Writing: 4/5
  • Appeal to teens: 3/5
  • Appropriate length to tell the story: 3/5

CONTENT:
  • Language: none--at least I don't remember any
  • Sexuality: medium--two near-rapes, 2 cross-dressing characters, multiple mentions of breast binding and menstrual cycle
  • Violence: medium--plenty of beatings for young apprentices; murder and attempted murder; fighting with knives and swords
  • Drugs/Alcohol: medium--tea that prevents menstruation; a steroid-like powder that increases muscular bulk

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