I picked up this book after successfully infiltrating a group of teenagers. I was at the library, in the young adult room, looking for Mockingjay, among other things, when a helpful young lady assumed I was one of her own and recommended this book to me. Well, I was so flattered that she thought I was one of her own, that I simply had no choice but to read it. This may be the best decision I’ve made in a young adult reading selection in a long time.
This book is fantastic in a number of ways. First of all, our main character is a crippled girl who is posing as a boy to become the next dragoneye. She’s one of the few who can see all the dragons in the energy world, which was why her master, a former dragoneye himself, gambled on her being chosen. At the ceremony, the rat dragon she was trying to connect with picks another, but she is ultimately chosen by the return of the Mirror Dragon. What follows is an intimate look at gender identity and what it actually means. Not only through Eon/Eona, but through Lady Dela, a transgender woman at the Emperor’s court. Who is also easily the bright spot of the book.
True, we’ve all seen the stories where a woman dresses as a man to accomplish important things in a patriarchal society before. What sets this book apart from the rest is the intense focus on gender identity and what that means, not only to the individual, but to society as well.
I’ve seen several complaints about this book, about how the solution was too obvious that they spent so much time wanting to smack Eon for being so blind. An easy thing to say coming from a society where women are allowed to believe they are equal to men. From Eon’s perspective, she’s dealing with five hundred years of being told that being female means that you are not good enough. The possibility that five hundred years of history could be wrong is simply not going to cross her mind, especially when her master told her the only way she could ever be considered worthy was to pretend that she was a boy.
All in all, if you’re looking for a good young adult fantasy, I highly recommend this one, if only for the inclusion of a crippled character and a transgender woman, individuals you don’t normally see in the age bracket.