Published: April 28th 2015
Aza Ray is drowning in thin air.
Since she was a baby, Aza has suffered from a mysterious lung disease that makes it ever harder for her to breathe, to speak—to live.
So when Aza catches a glimpse of a ship in the sky, her family chalks it up to a cruel side effect of her medication. But Aza doesn’t think this is a hallucination. She can hear someone on the ship calling her name.
Only her best friend, Jason, listens. Jason, who’s always been there. Jason, for whom she might have more-than-friendly feelings. But before Aza can consider that thrilling idea, something goes terribly wrong. Aza is lost to our world—and found, by another. Magonia.
Above the clouds, in a land of trading ships, Aza is not the weak and dying thing she was. In Magonia, she can breathe for the first time. Better, she has immense power—and as she navigates her new life, she discovers that war is coming. Magonia and Earth are on the cusp of a reckoning. And in Aza’s hands lies the fate of the whole of humanity—including the boy who loves her. Where do her loyalties lie?
Genre(s): Fantasy, Young-adult
Page Count: 320
Format I Own: Hardcover & ebook
Hello! Today I have a review on Magonia by Maria Dahvana Headley. I finally read this book, as part of a Goodreads read-along (hosted by The Book Club of Opinionated Hufflepuffs). I finished this book pretty quickly, considering it was 320 pages, which I translate to: addictive! After reading it, I will admit that I was quite conflicted, but I’ve finally sorted out my thoughts to say that I liked it. In the end I would say this book deserves a solid 3.5 stars. And I’m so happy about that! This book seemed like such a book, and although it wasn’t quite what I expected, it was still enjoyable and I’m interested in seeing what the second book will be like.
Aza was always going to die. She’s literally choking on thin air, and the doctors all predicted she would die. When Aza sees a ship in the sky, calling out to her, everyone thinks it’s simply a hallucination, except her best friend Jason. But then one day Aza wakes up, stronger than ever to find that she’s crucial to the survival of a whole new world—Magonia. Will Aza be able to let go of the people she loves on Earth to do what she need to do?
If you’re looking for a book with a typical YA plot and idea, this book is not one you want to pick up. Out of all things you can call this book, unique and different top the list for sure. That’s what I liked most about this whole story; it was refreshing. I mean, how many stories have you read with a whole world in the skies made of flying ships and bird creatures? The whole thing was a very interesting concept.
There were however, several odd moments.
And then, out of nowhere, the bird flies into my mouth. I can feel its tough little bones, its claws scratching at my teeth. I’m trying to scream but my mouth’s full of feathers. It’s pushing and its wings are opening in my mouth and then in my throat and I can’t breathe, and then it’s down my windpipe and speaking from inside my chest.
I think this is partly due to the writing style, but often I was weirded out by the descriptions of the whole bird creature things. This little teaser here is one of the moments where I was like, “Ew, um, really?” because honestly, it was weird. The whole storyline idea was creative and unique, yes, but it is weird to read about. At least until you become used to it.
Another thing I think could’ve been done better was the pacing. I know this was an issue for several other readers as well; often I felt like everything was all over the place and it felt like things that took place over the course of several days passed by in a couple. Perhaps it’s how it’s supposed to be, but I’m not quite sure. Everything just felt really chaotic to me, both positively and negatively, if you get my drift. The book was paced pretty fast, and although that did help keep me interested in the story, it simultaneously made things harder to follow and understand.
Ah, the characters. Let me first start with Aza, our protagonist. I would say for most people, she is quite hard to like. I found her to be quite refreshing, actually. In the first part of the book, at least. It took me some time to find her that way, but after really thinking about it, her character, her personality was just very amusing to read. She’s very snarky, sarcastic, and brave, all qualities I like in a characters. Not to mention markedly unafraid of death, which I would say is a different characteristic.
“Death is the Santa Claus of the adult world. Except Santa Claus in reverse. The guy who takes all the presents away.”
This is pretty depressing (and this is only a part of what she talks about) but I can understand her gloom. She may come off as bratty and a downer because of all her talk of death, but I liked that she was so upfront with everything. She wasn’t in denial. And from her conversations with Jason, I can tell she’s feisty. And also, she likes books!
“Yes, I’m a reader. Kill me. I could tell you I was raised in the library and the books were my only friends, but I didn’t do that, did I? Because I have mercy. I’m neither a genius nor a kid destined to become a wizard. I’m just me. I read stuff. Books are not my only friends, but we’re friendly. So there.”
So… a great character, right? What bothered me was that I found that afterwards, during the whole thing with Magonia, she changed. She seemed to have lost her humour, her snarkiness, her brutal honesty to herself that I admired in her. Was she still brave? Sure, but it just wasn’t the same.
Jason, on the other hand, I absolutely loved. His devotion and care for his best friend was so heartwarming and so cute. His chapters were wonderful to read.
“I’m not going anywhere,” Jason says. “You can keep trying to tell me to leave, but it’s not going to work. I came for you. I’m not leaving without you.”
His personality, unlike Aza’s, didn’t change and I admired his unwavering loyalty and consistency in whatever he set this mind to do.
The writing style was so beautiful. Everything about it just made me felt like I was dancing in the clouds, floating between the words.
“If you look at the sky that way, it’s this massive shifting poem, or maybe a letter, first written by one author, and then, when the earth moves, annotated by another. So I stare and stare until, one day, I can read it.”
The writing made me absorbed into the book, and I really felt the atmosphere of everything. I really loved it. Of course, I did have one issue with it, which partly ties into the quote I mentioned in the plot. The whole bird-in-the-lung descriptions, while very detailed, were kind of odd to read. But that’s in the minority; the writing was beautiful. It was not only poetic, but poetic and genuine, which, ultimately made it quite unique.
This book slightly disappointed me, but nonetheless, I found it to be addicting and a unique story. The plot, admittedly, could’ve been executed a bit better, and the whole concept, in truth, is quite peculiar, however is refreshing and interesting. The world of Magonia was great to read about, and if you have a wild imagination, Magonia is perfect to satisfy! I would’ve liked it if Aza’s character remained more consistent, but I did really like her for a good chunk of the book. Jason was great, and I can’t wait to see more of him. The writing style was magical and beautiful, with quotable passages and a gripping style. All in all, this book didn’t exactly meet my expectations, but I still liked it. I’m looking forward to the second book!
What did you think of this book? Agree or disagree with me? Planning on reading it?
I think Magonia would be an interesting choice for your next meal! I hope you enjoy its taste, it’s quite subjective. 😉
P.S. Completely unrelated to Magonia, I would really appreciate it if you guys quickly mentioned whether you like the important-ideas-bolded thing I did for this review. I had been meaning to use this kind of thing earlier, but never went with it. So I’d love to know what you think! Is it more helpful? Thank you so much!