Magonia by Maria Dahvana Headley | Book Review

(Magonia #1)

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?

Magonia_bookcover 2
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My Rating: 3.5 stars 3.5/5 (Liked it)

Book Information

Publisher: HarperCollins

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.

Quick Summary

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.

Writing Style

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.

Book Trailer


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. 😉

Analee 10

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!

39 thoughts on “Magonia by Maria Dahvana Headley | Book Review

  1. Doesn’t sound like the happiest book, but nice review! 🙂 The writing seems like Tahereh Mafi’s—weird, but beautiful 😀

    Liked by 1 person

  2. I heard about this book a while ago and instantly wanted to read it. Your review makes me want to see for myself and make my own conclusions, because it seems like the kind of book that depends on the time and mood you read it in.

    Speaking of your review, I really liked how you bolded the important points. Great writing style!

    Liked by 1 person

    • Yes, I was the exact same way when I first heard of this book. 🙂
      This book definitely is a question of personal taste, I agree, it really does depend on both the time and the mood, along with the person reading it too!
      And thank you for your opinion! I’m thinking I’ll continue this style for my future reviews.

      Liked by 1 person

  3. I’ve been eyeing this book for a long time now, but after reading your thoughts on it, I think I’ll check it out. It seems to sound a lot like The Strange and Beautiful Sorrows of Ava Lavender, which was a book I really loved. Great review though, Analee! I can’t wait to check this book out. 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

    • Yes, please do! This book wasn’t exactly the perfect cup of tea for me, but I did really like it. haven’t read The Strange and Beautiful(…) but I’ve heard enough about it to assume if you enjoyed it you’ll like Magonia. And I hope that’s the case for you! And thank you, I’m glad you liked my review! 🙂 I can’t wait to see your thoughts on Magonia once you get the chance to pick it up! ❤


  4. I know this may sound weird Analee, but erm…the whole feathers-in-the-lungs thing is sort of making me wanting this book more! 😛 As far as I am concern, I love the writing style from what you have shown in your review anyway. But, I am just weird like that. I can’t wait to read this novel! 😀

    P.S. I really like your bolded writings. It really help to get your point across and for readers who just skim through (not me 😛 ), I think they will get the main points. 🙂

    Happy readings,

    Liked by 1 person

    • Nah, not weird at all! If that’s the case, I’m sure you’ll really like Magonia. It was hard for me to wrap my head around the bird in the lung thing at first, but I came to terms with it. And it was a cool idea! 🙂 I hope you get the chance to get around to this book soon.

      Thanks for the feedback! You’re right, I do think it’s helpful. I’ll be continuing in for my future reviews. And lol, thank you for not skimming my reviews. XD I wouldn’t be offended if you did though. 😉
      Have a great day—and thanks for visiting! ❤

      Liked by 1 person

      • Haha, yes hopefully soon :p (probably at the end of the year when my exams finish 😦 )
        Yes, you should definitely do it for your future reviews. 😀 Haha, I find skimming a bit pointless if I am going to read it anyway.

        Liked by 1 person

  5. I felt the same way about it. I was totally addicted and when I finished the weirdness of it hit me.
    I like the bolded words, it makes it easier for me to understand what you want to emphasize in your review. 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

    • Happy to hear that I’m not alone! 🙂 I was really hooked while reading the book but afterwards, everything kind of smacked into me, lol.
      Glad you like it and find it useful! I think I’ll continue with it for my future reviews. ❤

      Liked by 1 person

  6. Yes, you reflect my thoughts exactly! That bird scene had me staring wide eyed at my book thinking: what did I just read?!
    And the pacing was so fast that I felt it really made what is meant to be the climax of this book totally ANTI-CLIMATIC.
    Aza as the protagonist, I didn’t particularly connect with but as with you, I loved Jason so much. He was the best written character by far in this book!
    Great review. xoxo

    Liked by 1 person

    • Ha ha, I know right? 🙂 But I guess once I got used to the idea of it all, I was okay with it, mostly.
      True, true! The pacing definitely could’ve been improved.
      Aza can definitely be difficult to like, I understand why you didn’t! But I’m glad you agree about Jason; he was definitely the best written character in the book! ❤
      Thank you!

      Liked by 1 person

  7. I was on the fence about reading Magonia, since in every review I’ve read so far, people are conflicted about whether or not they liked it. But I’m so glad you posted the bird-swallowing excerpt. The strangeness of it actually made me want to read the book!

    Liked by 1 person

    • Ha ha yes, I’ve noticed a lot of conflicting reviews as well, which was why I was hesitant myself at first. 🙂 I’m glad the excerpt helps in your decision! As I mentioned in my review, it was odd to read about, but once I got used to the idea, I was okay with it. ❤ I hope you enjoy the book if you get around to reading it!

      Liked by 1 person

    • Glad to hear my review is making you reconsider! I didn’t find this to be a bad book, I agree, this book is something that’s enjoyable when read at the right time. And the cover is definitely stunning, I love it! Thank you! 🙂


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