Eon: Dragoneye Reborn - Alison Goodman This is good stuff. It has some of my favorite elements of a story: Girl dressing up as boy in order to survive (see also: Bloody Jack: Being an Account of the Curious Adventures of Mary "Jacky" Faber, Ship's Boy), historical culture transformed into fantasy world (see also: Megan Whalen Turner, Naomi Novik), and of course, dragons (see also: dragons). It's full of political intrigue and secrets and things going on behind the scenes, and its action is fast-paced and keeps you riveted. Eon is a great protagonist. She's courageous and independent, but fallible. She often makes the wrong choices throughout the story, and readers will bite their nails and urge her to realize the truth. When she finally does, it makes you want to cheer.

This book also contains something rare in a Young Adult book--or any book: a positive portrayal of a transgender person. The character of Lady Dela knows she is a woman, even though her body is that of a man. She is persecuted by some, but others support her, including her own family. When asked why she doesn't have her male genitalia removed through surgery, she replies, "I don't need to be cut to know I am a woman." She is at all times referred to as "she." She is portrayed as a positive role model for Eon, and ultimately the key to Eon's understanding of her true power.


However, the treatment of disability in the book is slightly problematic. Eon has a permanent limp and chronic pain, her hip and leg having been crushed when she was younger. Because of this, she is "untouchable" and thought to bring bad luck, which helps her more easily pass as a boy. She has a deep friendship with one of the servant boys in her house, who also has a disability and is called a "freak" by other characters. All of this is in keeping with the society in which the book is set, which is fine. The problem comes at the end of the book, when Eon's dragon heals her leg, making her "whole" again. This is a common trope: character with a disability overcomes the odds to achieve great things, and then as a "reward" is suddenly healed of hir disability. I was disappointed to see it in this book, which I otherwise quite liked.