Monday, December 16, 2013

Eon: Dragoneye Reborn by Alison Goodman

   I feel like it's been a while since I posted here. Has it been? I guess I haven't been able to come up with things to write about that weren't simply book reviews, so I'll have to get down on that.
  But this is a book review, anyway, so I'm just going to get straight into it.

  This is a pretty hefty book, first of all: more than five hundred pages with the hard cover copy. Now, with thick, lengthy books such as this one, I'll either want to read until my eyes fall out or get so sick of reading it that I'll want to claw my eyes out. Strangely enough, this is one of those books that I took in chunks: I read a massive amount very quickly, then kind of faltered on the last twenty pages. 

   EON was, first of all, an extremely good kick-off to an in-depth fantasy series–the concept was mind-blowingly creative, and the Asian culture touch really added some colour to the whole world. It was a pretty heavy, gritty world, too–loads of sexism and prejudice and all of those lovely things that lots of high fantasy writers seem to be afraid of including. I thought the inclusion of these problems added character, conflict, and interest too the world, though, and they certainly made things more interesting for Eon, our main character, so I have no objections.
   Anyway, EON is set in a richly complex, vaguely Asiatic world where a high council of Dragoneyes serve the country with the grand powers of their dragons. I literally have no coherent way of explaining the whole Dragoneye cycle, so I'll stick to the basics: 12 Dragoneyes, 12 Zodiac Dragons, 12 people. Except one of the dragons has been missing for quite a while. {The Dragon of the Year of the Dragon, a.k.a. the Mirror Dragon} And this is where our hero, Eon, arrives.

   In a deeply sexist world, Eon is actually Eona, a girl posing as a boy in hopes that she will become one of the Dragon's chosen. She is chosen, but not by the Rat Dragon, as she expects, but rather, by the missing Mirror Dragon, and as a result, she is thrust into the intensely political and dangerous life that comes with the title. 

   I could actually go on forever about the basic plot nuances and fascinating pieces of world-building in this book, but this is a review, not a book report.

   So basically, I found the world-building and concept fascinating, and they were certainly enough on their own to keep me hooked. However, for a very specific reason, I couldn't attach myself emotionally to the book. In other words, I didn't really feel much of anything.      

   For once, I've been able to pinpoint the problem, and here, it's because most of the characters are so realistically selfish and human that it's difficult for me, as a reader, to like them and want them to live. From a standoffish point of view, I can see that Goodman knows what she's doing when it comes to people and characterization, but I feel as if she's gone to the point where about 90% of the cast have no redeeming qualities, or have qualities so awful that you can't look past them to see the good. Sometimes, this even leaks into the characters who are supposed to be perceived as decent people, so I wound up just hating everyone all around. {Except for maybe Lady Dela. And Prince Kygo. Surprisingly, I wasn't a big fan of Ryko; I found him kind of dull and surly. Oh, and even though Ido technically redeemed himself at the end, I was so abhorrently against his existence that I was unable to find it in my heart to forgive him.}

  This wouldn't be that much of an issue if Eon hadn't killed my opinion of her during the whole drug addict portion. Again, in a distant portion of my mind, I'm full of respect for Goodman's writing, but up front I'm thinking, God, what a prat. 

  My feelings towards Eon became a massive point of conflict for me while reading this, though, because on one hand, she's just an awesome strong female character, and on the other hand, she's also a bit of a dumbass at times. She just seems like the type of person who doesn't have much of an idea of what's going on, and it was kind of frustrating to read.

   However, from a non-personal point of view, her character development and character itself are amazing. Kudos to Goodman for creating what I legitimately believe to be the strongest female character in at least a decade, for a multitude of reasons.

   Man, there's so much I have to say about this book, but really, it was an excellent read, highly recommendable for fans of high fantasy or lit-appreciators all around, and I'm looking forward to picking up the sequel sometime soon! 


   OVERALL RATING:  ★ ★ ★ ★ ☆