Eon (Eon #1)
In Eon, Goodman did a pretty good job in handling gender themes (and one of the characters was actually transexual, which I thought was unique), and Eon as a character was actually very strong. I was especially impressed with the way she thought of herself as two people: Eon and Eona, as that, for me, suggested an elegant and complex thought process behind Eon’s characterization.
So overall, I definitely think Goodman succeeded in creating a fantasy novel that attacked a sexist society.
But as with any fantasy novel, the biggest draw to Eon is the worldbuilding. For some reason, I was expecting an Eragon-esque dragon novel, but Eon takes place in a psuedo-Oriental culture, which was much more interesting and unique than I’d hoped for. Throughout this, Goodman did an excellent job with her worldbuilding and setting, and I don’t think she ever once veered into info-dump territory.
Sadly, the plot was hopelessly predictable. And beyond being predictible, Goodman also (whether intentionally or not), used my least favorite plot technique: dramatic irony. It’s always frustrating when the reader knows what’s going on when they characters themselves don’t.
I think, though, that stunning characterization and superb world-building somewhat make me more forgiving toward the plot’s flaws.
I’ve heard all sorts of good things about Eon lately, and overall it’s definitely a really good book, and well worth reading. It isn’t entirely original in some respects, but it leaves a great overall impression.
This really appealed to me, because in terms of fantasy books, I am much more in favour of those books with the girl-who-kicks-butt protagonist, and has got lots of adventure and stuff like that, rather than the sappy protagonists that obsess over guys. Anyway. I'm getting off track.
The main theme in this book is gender equality and roles of each gender and personal identity and all that stuff.
This book is set in China, or a world heavily based on Chinese culture (because we don't exactly have mystical energy dragons that choose people to gain some of their power. Even though that would be totally awesome)
For years now, Eon has been training to be one of the candidates for the position of being a Dragoneye apprentice, a very coveted position where she lives. And for years before that, Eon has been training to act like a boy, because he is actually Eona. Since girls aren't allowed to try for the position, Eona has to dress up as a boy (Seriously? Talk about gender inequality. Sorry, but you aren't allowed to have special powers, because you're a GIRL?). To make these impossible odds even more impossible, Eona is a cripple with a very badly damaged leg. But on the day of the choosing, she is chosen, not by the Rat Dragon (who chose another guy), but by the MIrror Dragon, who has not been seen for hundreds of years.
Sorry, I made that sound so confusing. It's really hard to explain the dragon side of things there. Just read the book, and I promise you will catch on fast.
Eona had a lot of lies. She was a sixteen year-old girl pretending to be a twelve year old boy. So Eona was disguised as Eon, as a twelve year-old instead of sixteen, and she has to try and keep her secrets otherwise she would be killed. Oh, and did I mention the fact that she can't even call her dragon? So essentially, she has no power.
One of the great things about this book was the role of all the women in this society. Sure, there were all those maids and stuff, but then there was that Lady Dela, the "contraire", which basically means she is a man that is living as a woman, who is also in love with a noble eunuch. And then I thought about how there was a man dressed as a woman, and he'she had been accepted (albeit with difficulty), but a woman living as a man (i.e. Eona) was completely out of the question. No discussion. Interesting...
Yes, there were plenty of times I wanted to punch her, or shake her, or yell "YOU IDIOT!" right in her ear. For example, when Eon/a (God, these names are confusing. BTW, what kind of name is Eona? I prefer Eon.) was first presented with the problem that she couldn't connect or even SEE her dragon, I guessed/knew what the problem was straightaway, and I'm sure most readers are the same, so it was annoying to see her plunge herself deeper into the problem.
It was a little slow in the middle as well. But as frustrating as Eon/a /the book became sometimes, it was a really good read and now I really want to read Eona, the next in the series.
I definitely recommend picking up Eon if you like dragons and fantasy stuff.