Author: Maria Dahvana Headley
Date: 17th June 2016
Synopsis from GoodReads:
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?
I took ages to pick this one up, despite buying it last year. I’d heard some pretty mixed reviews and was hesitant, as I really wanted to like it.
Thankfully, I really did enjoy this book. I wasn’t completely blown away, but I found Magonia to be an inventive, unique story. The writing was descriptive and lyrical in some parts, but the author did have a tendency to go on tangents to provide background information about the characters, which felt unnecessary and I found it interrupted the flow and pacing of the book.
The protagonist, Aza Ray, was immediately likeable, and she continued to be throughout the entire book. She is definitely not the most heroic or strong-willed character, but she has a very strong sense of right and wrong, and always aimed to help those she loves.
The world-building was spread throughout the entire book, and it gave you snippets of information throughout. I really liked this, and there was only one point in the book where I felt lost, but this was definitely a deliberate decision by the author. This moment of confusion helped to enhance the plot twist that occurs late in the book, and reflected how Aza felt in the situation, being new to the world of Magonia.
To start with, the fluctuating pacing of the story put me off, but as the book progressed I began to really enjoy it. The pacing reflects the thoughts of the characters, and differs between Aza and Jason’s points-of-view. As I mentioned before, the author tended to go off on tangents, which affected the flow and the pacing of the book. However it worked well to help explore each character’s personality and thoughts, so overall I felt that it was a good writing choice.
The other protagonist, Jason, comes across as the perfect guy, and seems to achieve some incredible feats, especially considering his age. This aspect of the story felt very unrealistic and made me question how he managed those things, and I felt it was unbelievable. I know that this book is magical realism, and obviously some things will be unbelievable, but no explanation was provided for Jason doing these things. I felt it just let the story down a little bit.
Personally, I thought that this book had some dark, almost creepy elements to it. It had some dark elements that I didn’t expect, and also made me think about how humans are affecting the earth’s atmosphere. If you read it, you’ll see why. The mythology that the author used is cleverly expanded upon in this story, and there are some incredible creatures and characters that you are introduced to along the way.
Overall I felt very immersed in the world of Magonia, and became very attached to Aza throughout the course of the book. I thought the story ended well, but definitely left a good opening for the sequel, Aerie. It was a well-crafted story combining mythology, magic and a wide cast of characters, and the twists and turns throughout were definitely unexpected. Despite my initial reluctance to pick this one up, it kept me entertained and interested throughout, and I am so happy that I liked it. I think I’ll be reading the sequel too, when it comes out.
I do have many other thoughts about this book, but I’m trying to keep this spoiler-free, so if you’ve read this and want to talk about it, feel free to contact me.
- The Strange and Beautiful Sorrows of Ava Lavender – for the birds and magical realism elements.
- Gabriel and the Swallows – magical realism elements and immersive world-building.