Monday, August 15, 2011
Review: Eona by Alison Goodman
Eon, Book 2
(Book 1: Eon review)
At the heels of an imperial takeover, Eona has been revealed as a female Dragoneye and flees with her rebel friends for her life. Determined to put Kygo, the rightful heir, back onto the throne, Eona and her friends must do all they can to understand her Dragoneye powers, which so far are nearly impossible for her to control. To help Eona gain control over her powers, the Rebels reluctantly rescue Lord Ido, the Rat Dragoneye who murdered the other Dragoneyes in a selfish quest for ultimate power, who is to help her learn.
However, Eona finds herself torn between her love for Kygo and her undeniable pull towards Ido. She struggles to be true to herself in a world where telling the truth can mean losing her free will. Eona’s eventual decision will not only alter the political landscape of the land, but also the Dragoneyes’ very connection to the mystical and powerful dragons themselves.
I was dying for this sequel. Absolutely dying. Two years of distracting myself by reading other books, waiting for EONA to finally, finally be released. And even though I didn’t enjoy it as much as I did Eon, it is still a towering accomplishment in fantasy literature that should satisfy most fans of the first book.
Alison Goodman’s world-building is as astonishing as ever. Whereas Eon largely takes place within the walls of the castle grounds, EONA traverses various landscapes, cultures, and attitudes in a dizzying array of information to keep track of. And it doesn’t entirely succeed. The bulk of the story remains close to Eona, Kygo, Ido, and their various plans for overthrowing the traitor “Emperor” Sethon; supporting characters who come in and out of the story don’t feel grounded within the world, and thus I found it extremely difficult to keep track of the goings-on and their importance.
Perhaps I should’ve reread Eon before starting EONA, because I found that EONA went in an entirely different direction than I had expected. For instance, whereas Eon emphasizes personal growth and court tensions, the majority of EONA felt like it toyed with a disappointingly more conventional YA love triangle between Kygo, Eona, and Ido. Neither of these people are truly likable: turns out that all three are power-hungry and mistrustful in their own ways. I actually appreciate this complexity of character. Here are three very different people, all thrust into an inescapable game of political and magical push-and-pull; it would be next to impossible that they’d come out of their experiences untouched.
So I really enjoyed reading about their flaws, but it made the fact that the love triangle seemed to be such a large part of EONA a little unbearable. I wasn’t particularly a fan of either “leg” of the triangle, and it felt a little like giving in to YA conventions, in my opinion, detracting from the action-packed, conspiracy-oriented feel of Eon.
Nevertheless, EONA is an impressive conclusion to a marvelously complex world that was introduced in Eon, and therefore has to be read by anyone who read and enjoyed the first book. The focus of EONA shifts, but still ends on a note that will likely leave you nodding and smiling.
Cover discussion: Zowweeee! I wish the girl were more Asian, as befits the inspiration for Eona's world, but otherwise the layering of the girl, troops, and dragon is very impressive.
Viking Juvenile / April 19, 2011 / Hardcover / 637pp. / $19.99