Thursday, December 29, 2011

Eon: Dragoneye Reborn by Alison Goodman

Book Jacket

Twelve-year-old Eon has been in training for years.  His intensive study of Dragon Magic, based on East Asian astrology, involves two kinds of skills: sword-work and magical aptitude.  He and his master hope that he will be chosen as a Dragoneye--an apprentice to one of the twelve energy dragons of good fortune.

But Eon has a dangerous secret.  He is actually Eona, a sixteen-year-old girl who has been masquerading as a boy for the chance to become a Dragoneye.  Females are forbidden to use Dragon Magic; if anyone discovers she has been hiding in plain sight, her death is assured.

When Eon's secret threatens to come to light, she and her allies are plunged into grave danger and a deadly struggle for the Imperial throne.  Eon must find the strength and inner power to battle those who want to take her magic...and her life.



I almost always love stories of hidden identities, of pretending to be something you're not to go against social convention.  What makes Eon stand out above the rest is the way Goodman plays with the psychological issues inherent in hiding your identity.  How deeply do you hide yourself?  Should you fully embrace your mask, or should you always remember who you truly are, or can you be a little bit of both?

Since this is a hidden identity where Eona the girl pretends to be Eon the boy, there is also so much fun gender bendiness!  There are eunuchs, and men born with women's souls, and girls pretending to be boys, and men taking Sun powder (i.e. steroids) to enhance their power.  But none of these things are overwhelmingly preachy.  They exist, and there are consequences, and the reader is left to make what they will of the characters.

Personally, I adored Ryko and Lady Dela.  They win all the awards for best supporting characters.  Eon is complicated and forceful and not at all perfect, which makes her a brilliant protagonist.  As her foil, Ido is brilliantly power-mad, terrifying and genuinely creepy.  The rest of the cast fills out very nicely, and I liked nearly everyone, which made it so sad when people started to die.

Which is another thing I love about this book.  Goodman isn't afraid to kill her characters for the sake of a great and dramatic story.

Finally, what makes me truly adore Eon: Dragoneye Reborn is this.  Even though it sounds like just another girl-pretending-to-be-a-boy plot, it does something unusual.  Eona isn't only awesome like a boy, capable of fighting and swaggering telling people who's boss.  She learns to do those things.  But her real power comes from her femininity.  It isn't until she embraces her feminine side that she can really kick butt.  Girls have worth and power when being feminine. Thank you, Goodman, for the reminder to society.

Five out of five red folios.

Release Date:  December 2008
Reading Level: Grade 8+
Where In Dunlap Public Library's Collection: YPL GOO

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