I loved this book. Adored. Couldn’t put it down. Young Adult reading that wasn’t filled with typical teen angst or broody love triangles? What a relief! Kick-butt warrior girl pretending to be a boy in an incredibly creative, fun world? Even better! Eon by Alison Goodman rocked my literary world, and all the sleep I lost was well-worth staying up to indulge in this wonderfully scrumptious story.
Eon, a crippled twelve-year-old boy is really Eona, a sixteen-year-old girl pretending to be the former for one reason: to be chosen as a Dragoneye apprentice , who studies under one of twelve magical dragons. Only men are allowed, and even though she has a hidden gift, the ability to see the dragons in the spirit world, her sex automatically eliminates her. So in the disguise of Eon, she studies and practices the arts that will allow her to be the special one chosen to become the Rat Dragon’s new apprentice.
The magic of this world is set up around the Chinese calendar. Each one of the animals that correspond with a year has a matching dragon, each a different color, and each the keeper of a skill or emotion: kindness, resourcefulness, and honesty, to name a few. The Dragoneyes are people who are in direct connection with the dragon that chose them, and being able to harness its powers, help control the land by magically stopping storms and natural disasters.
Eon is hoping to be chosen by the Rat Dragon, whose year is approaching and who needs to pick a new apprentice. Even with a severe hip injury, Eon manages to make it all the way to the choosing round, where ancient martial arts movements are done in honor of the dragon in hopes that it pleases him enough to be picked. But when Eon makes it into the ring, the unthinkable happens, which stirs up the world as everyone knows it presently, and brings forth the past in a wonderful and unexpected way. However, amazing as this surprise is, the political and magical world is thrown upside down, leaving Eona smack dab in the middle of it all.
These points barely begin to touch on the amazing world that Alison Goodman created in Eon, the first book in a duology, followed up by Eona. I thought the use of the Chinese calendar was ingenious, and all of the different layers, elements, and subtleties made this world a rich and complex tapestry. There was wonderful back-story, introspection, and general issues that make Eona a fantastically multifaceted character. From the start all the stakes are against her and things only increase as Eona is thrust into the spotlight, yet must remain hidden in the form and behaviors of a boy.
It was also nice to read an adventure-driven YA book. Yes, as the whole series progresses, there is some sexual tension that develops, but romance and relationships come second to the life choices and adventure Eona experiences. I was able to become absorbed in the intrigue and treachery of the court and politics, hoping that down the road romance would appear in a minor fashion to round out the complexity of the story, which it did. We get glimpses of these things in Eon, and it was such a relief that this wasn’t the prominent idea. I love a little romance, for sure, but the market is saturated with similar-type books, and this was such a nice little break from that.
This is one of the best books I’ve read this year. Looking back at some of the other books I’ve read recently, this one makes them pale in comparison. The story is wonderful, complicated, and so rich that it left my cup flowing over and still wanting more to fill it with. I ran out to the store as soon as I finished it to pick up the sequel, which, lucky for me, had just come out. This book was stunning, a wonderful work of Young Adult fiction, and I’d recommend it to anyone who wants to get lost in an adventure rich in magic, culture, and intrigue. You won’t be disappointed.
Eon was published on December 26th, 2008.