Author: Maria Dahvana Headley
Series: Magonia, #1
Release Date: April 28th 2015
Maria Dahvana Headley’s soaring YA debut is a fiercely intelligent, multilayered fantasy where Neil Gaiman’s Stardust meets John Green’s The Fault in Our Stars in a story about a girl caught between two worlds…two races…and two destinies.
Aza Ray Boyle 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—but as she navigates her new life, she discovers that war between Magonia and Earth is coming. In Aza’s hands lies fate of the whole of humanity—including the boy who loves her. Where do her loyalties lie?
– Blurb courtesy of goodreads.com
My Thoughts On…
Magonia has been on my to-read list ever since I attempted to read it during a massive reading slump I went through in 2015 and struggled to get past the first page. I put it back on my to-read list with the intention of picking it up again later. Well, it took me over a year but I finally finished Magonia. I wasn’t sure what to expect from this book, there are plenty of mixed reviews out there and one thing that seems consistent in most of them is that the story is a strange one.
Ever since she was one year old Aza Ray has been drowning on Earth. She struggles to breathe; her whole life is a back and forth journey to the hospital for more tests and she has been told countless times she won’t make it to her next birthday. Aza has been managing her disease, a disease no one had ever seen before and one that no one knows how to fix, but recently things have been getting weird, even for her.
She sees a ship in the clouds, there are feathers in her lungs, and she keeps hearing a mysterious voice tells her to go outside. Aza knows anyone she tells will think they are hallucinations, a side effect of her disease, anyone except Jason that is.
When Aza arrives in Magonia she is lost to the world below, the world of the Drowners where she has been trapped since she was a year old, but Jason refuses to give up on her. He doesn’t believe Aza is gone and is determined to follow the path she is on until he can find his best friend again. Meanwhile sailing among the clouds Aza struggles to adjust to this new world she has found herself in; a world where she can breathe normally for once and where she has a great power, a great destiny, and a great choice to make.
Magonia was an interesting book, but one of the issues I had with it was the pacing of the plot. The beginning was all about Aza’s life, her disease and the people she loved on Earth. It takes up a lot of the book so by the time we get to Magonia it feels like there was not enough time left to develop the new world properly. In the end the first half of this book felt slow which left the second half feeling rushed.
Aza Ray has always known she was dying, but she doesn’t let her disease define who she is. She hates pity and knows all too well how people react when they discover what’s wrong with her and what it means for her life span, although she’s not above using their pity for her own gain at times. Aza doesn’t really fit in with anyone on Earth other than Jason and her family. She’s a loner, intelligent and stubborn, her mind seems to work through things differently to everyone else’s so it was interesting seeing both worlds through her eyes; Magonia and the Earth.
Jason has lived his whole life around Aza since he was five years old and escaped his home to go to her birthday party. The two of them are inseparable and as strange as Aza is Jason is just as strange. The two of them connect in a way they don’t with anyone else; not Jason with his mother’s and not Aza with her parents or her sister. No matter what Jason is there at Aza’s side, and when she starts seeing strange things, like ships in the sky, Jason already has an answer for her that that has nothing to do with her disease.
When it comes to Aza Jason is stubborn, and it’s only when we read the book through his POV that we see how much. His mind works differently, always searching out more, and it’s the reason why he doesn’t believe Aza is really gone when everyone else does. Jason is willing to do anything to bring Aza back to where he thinks she belongs, he’s willing to go to the ends of the Earth to be with her again.
When it comes to her disease Aza’s whole family see it differently, but they love her nonetheless. When Aza is in Magonia her first thought is how to get back down to them again. She doesn’t give up hope, even when it is proved to her there is none left. At first she can’t accept there is no way for her to be back with the people she loves but eventually she has to face the truth, that her destiny isn’t down on Earth with her family and Jason but in Magonia where her power can bring about real change.
When I read the blurb one of the main things that appealed to me was the sound of the world Magonia was set in. The way it was described ‘above the clouds, in a land of trading ships’ captured my attention but when Aza finally arrived in Magonia it fell flat. Although a lot of the world was richly described, mainly the sights Aza could see from the ship as they flew in the clouds over the Earth, there seemed to be a lot of the politics and history of the Magonian’s that was left out. In the end I couldn’t help but feel Magonia was a shallow world; we could see it through Aza’s eyes but we couldn’t understand it or see anything beyond the surface.
Magonia is definitely an interesting book with a unique concept and two main characters I loved from the second they were introduced, however I think there was still a lot more I would have liked to have seen done; both with the story and the world building. In the end, although I enjoyed Magonia, I did think it could have been better.
What did you think of Magonia? Was it a favourite of yours or could you just not get into the story? Let me know.