Review: Magonia by Maria Dahvana Headley

May 9, 2015 3.5 stars, Book Review 10 ★★★½

Review: Magonia by Maria Dahvana HeadleyMagonia by Maria Dahvana Headley
Published by HarperCollins on April 28, 2015
Genres: Fantasy, Science fiction, Young Adult
Pages: 320
Format: eARC
Source: Publisher
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*This book was provided by the Publisher for review. No compensation was provided and all opinions are strictly my own.

Neil Gaiman’s Stardust meets John Green’s The Fault in Our Stars in this fantasy about a girl caught between two worlds... two races…and two destinies.

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?

How do I explain Magonia? It was sad, quirky, full of fascinating ideas, a definite genre mashup, and at times a little too expected or convenient but ultimately enjoyable.

Multiple books in one genre mashup

After reading Magonia it was as if I’d read two books in 3 different genres.

Book the first, genre Contemporary In the first third the book was almost completely contemporary. And like most YA contemporaries you read these days it was all about bringing you the sadness, tragedy and tears!! I tell you I normally stay away from contemporary books because I don’t like reading about cancer, sickness, sadness and all the sob stories that are generally going to make me miserable and go thru a box of tissues. Ok I lie I wouldn’t go thru tissues because normally it’s hard to get me to cry. So believe me when I say Magonia made me cry during this first third. Aza Ray had been dying ever since she was one years old, basically drowning in air, so what is going to happen folks? – yeah. She has an amazingly quirky family and the best friend anyone could ever ask for. I loved how focused this part of the book was on Aza, her family and her friend Jason. It allowed me to really connect with her and I just couldn’t get enough of her sass and wry humor.

Book the second, genre Sci-Fi Fantasy – this is where things get weird…But not necessarily in a bad way. Cause come on airships, Bird people and pirates – how cool is that? The rest of the book is told mostly from Aza’s point of view but we also get a few chapters told from Jason’s pov as he deals with losing her. This one particular chapter made me love him so much and puts him emotionally right there at the top of the list for fabulous YA male characters. But when we are with Aza she is now in the sky on an airship. Think old school sailing the high seas type ship but in the air and with a huge bat creature as the sail. Sounds nifty doesn’t it? The crew is made up of two types of races of people, these blue humanoids, which Aza, the captain and first mate Dai are, and the other are the feathered class called “Rostrae” which are bird people who serve the blues. They can shift from being a normal bird (small) into a humanoid with bird features, like maintaining most of their feathers, beak, having arms as well as wings, etc. It wasn’t too hard to imagine and this Is one of the fantasy aspects along with a kind of singing magic the blues poses. Only Aza’s class of people have this singing magic and ability to bond with a lungbird that makes its nest inside one of their lungs. It’s very strange but a really cool concept. The science fiction comes in with the technology, airships, and human skins. I really didn’t feel like it was strictly fantasy or science fiction but a blending of the two.

The not quite love triangle

It is almost impossible to find a young adult book these days where the heroine isn’t torn between two boys romantically. Instead here it’s pretty obvious who Aza cares for but the plot tired get to another boy for other magical reasons but Aza doesn’t feel romantically for him like she does Jason. But I still feel like this turns the relationships into a triangle. It didn’t irk me to no end but I do wish that the tie to Dai wasn’t included. I deemed it completely unnecessary. It didn’t add anything to the story to me except aggravation that the story couldn’t have left well enough alone. Whatever extra tension that tie was supposed to have added wasn’t there – it just made me roll my eyes and go “oh this again.”

The verdict

I enjoyed Magonia and it really surprised me that I enjoyed the first third of the book more so then I did the rest of it because I normally don’t dig contemporary. Aza and Jason were fabulous characters that I really came to care a lot about. I would have rated it higher except I find romantic triangles tiresome and once the book got to a certain point the rest of the plot was obvious. Still enjoyable and I recommend it for YA readers that want something a little different.

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Tabitha (Pabkins)

When I'm in the zone I can flip book pages faster than the eye can see - screaming "More Input!" I'm a book, yarn, & art supply hoarding goblin who loves to draw, make toys and craft all sorts of creepy cute things. My current habit is to listen to audio books while I'm arting it up!
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10 Responses to “Review: Magonia by Maria Dahvana Headley”

    • Tabitha (Pabkins)

      Yeah I am sure they are real. But I just can’t remember this many of them from when I was younger…it’s just so overused. Here I definitely don’t think there is any emotion going from Aza to the guy of her species so maybe it isn’t a real triangle.
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  1. Emily Alfano

    Ive had this book on my TBR and i’m glad to see you gave it 3 1/2 stars! although i am nervous about the comment you made regarding the end of the book and the fact that you enjoyed the first 1/3 of the book more than the rest, i think i might still give this a go! thanks for reviewing this!
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