Hola Readers! Time to get another rambling out there. Today I'm gonna ramble about a book that has been on and off my radar for a couple of years. I think that the book gods were making sure I saved it for a special occasion and reading Eon by Alison Goodman while at the Asian themed Wynn in Las Vegas was about as perfect as it could get. Do you want to know why I loved it? Ok, but first, as always SPOILERS AHEAD!
Story - Somebody compared this story to ones told by Tamora Pierce...who is one of my favorite YA novelists, so that got me excited. I totally understand the comparison and it is a good one. The story was complex without being overly stuffed, the various story lines were clear and all melded into each other in a way that made sense. I wanted to keep reading the story, I wanted to find out what happened next, I wanted to tell the story to someone...You could totally see this story becoming a legend that got told over and over in this world it was set in. It had all the elements that a good story wants, we had conflict, we had battles, we had personal moments, we had friendships, we had romances, we had difficulties to overcome, we had DRAGONS! Loved the story.
Character - The characters were pretty much awesome. Eon/Eona was not perfect, but she was also not overly bitchy, or overly tough, she was just a person who kept getting thrown into circumstances out of her control and it wasn't until she took charge of her self and accepted herself did she gain any control. In fact that seems to be a theme with the characters in this book. They were all varied and all had various motives for what they did, they were all layered and wonderfully complex without being ridiculous, but they all had to find a way to accept themselves before they moved forward...but more on that later. The variety and nuanced way the author dealt with the characters was fantastic.
Editing - This book is a great example of how to take multiple storylines and ideas and find a way to pare them down and fit them together to be readable. One of my literary pet peeves is when an author has all these great ideas and tries to squash all of them into one book and the editor does nothing to try and make it coherent. In this case, the editor seemed to take the myriad of various storylines, characters, ideas and world building and figured out how to make it eminently readable. I can't really put my finger on why this book with it's fullness was so readable, when so many who try the same thing are not, but I'm gonna go with the editor was perfectly paired with the author and regardless it makes me very very very happy.
Acceptance Of Self - This book was chock full of alternate identities/lifestyles. Some people chose a different life, some people had it forced on them and some just needed to discover who they were. I would say gender identity was the biggest obstacle that a lot of the main characters faced. Keeping in mind that this is a male dominated society with gender roles pretty clearly defined and adhered too. Eon/Eona as our main character was our biggest example of this as she had to hide so much of herself both by necessity and by choice. The choice came in as she was born female, identified female and chose to live as a male. The necessity came in when she felt that being a boy was the only way to achieve anything of importance in her life...oh yeah and when they would kill her if it was revealed she was a girl. Dela on the other hand was a completely different ball game. She was born a male, but identified as female, feeling she had no choice but to live as a woman because in her heart that is what she was. I found it interesting in some places she was revered for her ability to accommodate both the male and female within herself, while other places she was reviled as an abohrasion (I can not figure out how to spell that word...hopefully you all know what I mean). Ryko was not given a choice when he was made a enuch, and yet he has learned to live and identify as a male, regardless of his equipment, not letting it define him. On a less definitive note we watch as Kygo has to learn to trust and believe in himself before he can become a leader. Lord Ido has purposely squashed all empathy as to become cruel, which is what he felt he needed to succeed, and it isn't until this is restored that he in any way becomes human. The ultimate message though was the fact that it wasn't until Eona accepted her whole self, not just the fact that she was female, but also that she was smart and capable and fallible and needed help that she was able to in any way shape or form use her Dragon's power. I love that this was the main message and that it wasn't delivered in a preachy way, or in a tell you what to think way, or that any one way was right. Just until you can accept and trust yourself, your not gonna get very far.
Perfect Reading Situation - Like I mentioned earlier, part of the appeal of this book is that I go to read it in the most perfect of circumstances. I got to read it in a place that was essentially desgined to match the books mood and setting. Couple that with the fact that I spent half of the vacation in a tub so deep I could float with a glass of wine or whisky at my fingertips while reading also helped. I was totally stoked at how much I wanted to just sit and read this book 'cause for once I had time to do just that. This book will forever be associated with one of my vacations of awesome. I love it when the literary stars align and I get to add a new book to my favorite list. It will always be one of those book associated with something very specific and something very good in my life.
YA Reading Like It Should Be - I have a love/hate relationship with YA books. I find them to be either amazing or horrible. It seems that a lot of YA authors want to come across as too hip and write like they have never met a real teenager before. Sometimes the books turn into nothing but an overwrought love story, or somebodies 20 year old wish fulfillment. THEN you get books like this, ones that address realistic teenage issues while not talking down too, or over their heads. You also get a great story that utilizes the unique position that teenagers are in, to straddle the world of innocence and childhood, and maturity and adulthood. Books like this make me want to shout to all the other authors THIS IS HOW YOU WRITE A BOOK FOR EVERYBODY! Given this is targeted at the 12-16 age group, and probably geared more for the females, but seriously I can see anybody of any gender and any age reading this and enjoying it. This is a book you read and any age...and then reread again. Yay!
Dragons! - Have I mentioned that I love dragons? Seriously I am a huge dragon fan, especially in books. The dragons in this book, again were fairly well realized and integrated perfectly into the world and story. It is very different from a lot of the standard European dragons and I love the change of pace and the little original touches that the author put in...perfection.
Overall Impression - I think it's pretty obvious that I very much enjoyed this book. It hit all the right notes for me and it was exactly what I needed when I read it. There are some frustrating loose ends...essentially what happened 500 years ago that made the Mirror Dragon disappear and why did everybody forget...but the good news is that there is a sequel (that I am already reading!) that promises to fill in the gaps. I really really enjoyed this book and hopefully enjoy the next one as well. I am now on my way to buy all the other books by this author in hopes that they are just as good. I give it 9 out of 10 Story Robes and recommend it to pretty much anybody, but especially those who are fans of Tamora Pierce, Anne McCaffrey, Brandon Mull, Rick Riordan and the like. Happy Reading Everybody!