Eon by Alison Goodman has been on my to-read list for a long time. I got it three days ago as a pre-Christmas present and I read all 531 pages of that hefty book in only three days, even with all of the hustle and bustle of the holiday season. I think that is a testament to how un-put-down-able Eon was!
Born and raised as a slave on a salt farm, Eona would do anything to escape that hell. When a previous Dragoneye, one of eleven (previously twelve) people that can control the celestial dragons, comes to her and offers her a new life, she is more than excited to accept. However, she has to completely erase Eona, the sixteen-year-old girl, and become Eon, a twelve-year-old boy, so that she can enter to be one of the twelve candidates fir Dragoneye for the year of the Rat dragon (girl’s aren’t allowed to participate). There’s something special about Eon: she can see all eleven of the dragons, when the average person cannot see any. Even a Dragoneye can see only his dragon. However, when she enters the arena, the Rat Dragon does not pick her; but the Mirror Dragon does. Known as the ruler of all dragons, the Mirror Dragon had disappeared five hundred years earlier and no one knows why. Now, why has the Mirror Dragon reappeared, and chosen Eon of all people? As Eon is thrown into court life with a dangerous rebellion beginning, she struggles to keep her most precious secret: the secret of her gender. What’s worse, she can’t call her dragon, and therefore can’t use her powers. Will they begin to suspect Eon of her true identity? And what will happen if she can’t use her powers to stop the darker forces at work from rising against the Emperor?
My favorite characters were Eon, Lady Della, and Ryko. And, strangely, Lord Ido (the bad guy…). Eon was really brave in the way she threw herself in the middle of the court when she knew she would be killed if she were found out, and I think it’d be pretty hard to hide the fact that I’m a girl, but maybe that’s just me… She was a likable character, but there were times when I was mentally screaming at her for being dumb and not figuring out things that were obvious to me, but maybe it’s just because I was an observer rather than actually living it. Lady Della was physically a boy, but she had the spirit of a girl, so she served in the king’s harem as a concubine. She was seriously hilarious and I can picture her perfectly in my mind; she was Eon’s first ally in the court and she was so sweet. Ryko was Lady Della and Eon’s bodyguard and his interactions with Lady Della were adorable and really comical. They were the only ones that lightened the mood of the book, along with a few appearances of Prince Kygo. I’m not really sure why I liked Lord Ido. He was crazy and evil, but at the end of the book I couldn’t help but like him at least a little bit. And now that I’ve been finished the book for about an hour, I just get the feeling that I like him… I don’t really know why though…
One of the things that I appreciated most about Eon was the message that it sent about women. In Eon’s world only men had any honor or respect. The highest-ranking position a woman could have was a royal concubine, which is basically a fancy prostitute for the king. However, they accepted Eon as a boy, saying that he was their only hope, that he was honorable and brave. (*mini spoiler alert*)Upon finding out that she is actually a girl, even her closest allies say that she has no honor or respect, and that she could not possibly be their hope. Just with a switch in gender, everyone’s opinion changed drastically. However, by the end of the book she proves them all wrong and they all see women with a new light. This book is a perfect example for the fact that gender and personality seem to have a lot in common when they actually don’t. Gender doesn’t determine personality, and personality doesn’t determine gender. It was nice to see a character prove that women can be just as brave and honorable, if not more so, than any man.
The writing was also very intriguing. It was written in first point-of-view with Eona as the narrator and I love stories where girls pretend to be boys or vice versa (like “She’s the Man” J), so it was really interesting to read a story from the point-of-view of someone masquerading as a another gender. The style also engaged me in the story and I felt like I was actually there. However, there were some times when the story was a bit confusing and I had to read the same section a few times before I really understood it, but luckily these were few and far between. It also fell into a little bit of a lull in the middle, but it quickly picked up again, and as you can tell that small part didn’t stop me from reading! Lastly, this book was based off of Chinese and Japanese culture, both of which I find absolutely fascinating, so it was awesome reading about a world based off of those two cultures!