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I'm immortally interested in cultural/literary deconstructions, feminism, anti-racism, South Korea, Supernatural, Sherlock Holmes, Hayao Miyazaki, Diana Wynne Jones, food (including but not limited to maple butter, tomatoes, and toast), fairy tales, parentheses, paper airplanes, films and books.

Thursday, April 21, 2011

Eon: Dragoneye Renewed

Eon has been studying the ancient art of Dragon Magic for four years, hoping he'll be able to apprentice to one of the twelve energy dragons of good fortune. But he also has a dark secret. He is actually Eona, a sixteen-year-old girl who has been living a dangerous lie for the chance to become a Dragoneye, the human link to an energy dragon's power. It is forbidden for females to practice the Dragon Magic and if discovered Eon faces a terrible death.*

As a frequent Goodreader, I have heard a fair share of praise over this book. I was actually quite surprised to find that Eon: Dragoneye Reborn had its first printing in 1999. But as I started reading, I realized that the writing spoke volumes of the time it was written in. With a healthy lack of love triangles, a heroine less interested in boys than the average teen nowadays and a book cover refreshingly suitable for the high-fantasy of this caliabre, it was an enjoyable read. However, I had my own fair share of frustrations and disappointments with this acclaimed book.

Disclaimer: I was reading the ALA 2010 Best Books for Teens and realized that Eon: Dragoneye Reborn was taken down as being published in 2008. I checked Goodreads and the same was said. I wonder if I had gotten an older version because I remember 1999 being its original publication. Or perhaps I'm experiencing a inter-dimensional rift...

I've read enough reviews touting the fact that they forgot many times that the narrator was a girl. For me however that was quite the opposite case. The beginning was wonderful. I loved the hardness in Eon and thought it would last unfortunately as the book progressed, it was less of a tale of a girl-in-boy-disguise and more of the tale of a girl's journey to become the most powerful person in the land. I never once forgot that Eon was in fact Eona. I could compare this book to Tamora Pierce's Alanna but Eon was written in the first person and would undoubtedly make it harder to have the reader believe that they were in the mind of a girl-in-disguise. On the other hand, I found Eon would frequently refer to himself as in danger of a girl while pushing away his feminine side and blush underneath the gaze of a prince. Although, yes, I understand that the land that Goodman has created is on reminiscent of olden days China where the social restrictions were even more defined than its Western counterpart; I believe that under the regimen of Eon's master Eon would have long forgotten about being a girl.

While I was reading, there was also this uncomfortable feeling that Eon was a Mary Sue in disguise. At the very beginning, she held a power no one else could and as the book progressed and she gained skill after skill, that feeling grew and grew. Despite being a cripple, Eon still succeeded where others had failed. Then towards the end (SPOILER) when her leg was fully healed (END OF SPOILER) the feeling was cemented to great disappointment.

Eon could have been a great character if not for the constant repetition over the fact that she would die. There was a much better way to have shown that instead of making me feel like perhaps it had some kind of hidden meaning. It made that much less of an impact when Eon (SPOILER) was found out, she only momentarily lost the alliances she made and quickly gained them back without much effort (END OF SPOILER) it just seemed to make all that "Gotta hide, gotta hide!" the melodrama of a paranoid girl. If she had been shown perhaps, other than searching for her dragon's name, struggling with even controlling the power instead of just looking close, it would have seemed more relate-able. After all one of the many traits of a Mary Sue is the ability to control whatever powers they have without any effort or training at all. The beginning made Eon seem like the complete opposite of your basic - nowadays rampant - Mary Sue and then ... sigh.

One thing that seriously bothered me was the spark between Eon and her master. I'm not sure if that was supposed to be platonic spark but from the descriptions of Eon touching and letting her master change her, it really creeped me out. Especially when I remembered reading about how Dragoneye lords generally age twice their age ... and Eon's master is suppose to be forty. (Or maybe I just read this wrong? I'd love a clear-up if anyone could offer one. I just felt so icky reading that bit.)

Now for the good: other than the obvious awesomeness of reading about girls dressing up as boys, the feminism and issues over personal identity were handled greatly. I also adored the side romance (which I won't spoil but I am wondering how they'd be able to consummate it) in fact with only the fluttering of a girl's suppressed hormones (again, that just gets an extra star for the mention) there was no romance in this.

If you didn't hear that, let me repeat that.

There was no romance in this. Just repressed hormones and a girl overcoming an older man who for all intents and purposes mind-raped her.

HOW MIND-BLOWING IS THAT?!?! A fantasy book geared towards women without romance?

Alison Goodman, ftw.

You managed to make an engaging, captivating book for girls without succumbing to the cliche of having to add romance to supposedly make it interesting for teenage girls. I think I'll have to give you much more stars just for that as well.

All in all=

*Summary provided by Goodreads.

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