Maria Dahvana Headley – Magonia

Author: Maria Dahvana Headley
Release Date: April 28, 2015

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?

I’m not sure why this is compared to The Fault in Our Stars. In my opinion, nothing compares to it. But in all honesty, just because you have a character about to die or have an illness doesn’t mean that you can slap John Green’s masterpiece on the blurb. In fact, that blurb was a really big turn off, but I was really interested in Magonia itself. I really liked the concept and the message the author was trying to get at in the book, but I didn’t enjoy the execution as much. I just feel like there was something… missing. Don’t get me wrong, it was still a great book!

Aza comes off in the beginning as maybe a little like Hazel Grace? No one can compare to her, obviously, but Aza likes to poke fun at her deadly illness, much like Hazel did with cancer. For me, it just didn’t work with Aza. The way she said it just seemed like she didn’t care and it kind of made her sound a little emo.
”I’m not depressed. I’m just fucked up.”

The other character, Jason, was quite interesting at first but gets less interesting as the story progresses. He has two lesbian mothers, of which one is a scientist! Aza’s own mother is an immunologist who researches and experiments on things related to Aza’s unknown illness, which I think is super sweet and endearing. The parents in this book really care for their children and are a large part of their lives.

I really liked the world-building in this story. Well, we have the normal world where Drowners like me live in. Drowning in air – get it? Ha. And then we have the world of Magonia, which is an actual thing. Seriously, it has its own Wikipedia link here. I love it when authors put things that happened in real life and twist it to fit in with the story. In this book, the concept of Magonia is expanded on to create a whole new world. Totally awesome. My only complaint is that there is not much history behind the world. There are some mentions of fraternizing with humans for a little bit and that’s pretty much it. I would’ve liked to find out how it came to be, or how long it’s been there, or their general situation with the humans rather than specific case studies. Other than that, the author has created a really cool system and world that readers will definitely enjoy.

Aza was taken as a baby from the Magonians and put with a family of Drowners – the one she grew up with. However, as she’s on the cusps of death, her real mother finds her and saves her. From there, Aza has to learn the ways of her people. There’s so much to discover about Magonia that I’m just going to leave it at that. Read the book to find out what the new world has in store for Aza.

The concept of Magonia is definitely stellar. Aza is a character that grows throughout the book and finds out what family and loyalty really means. Jason sticks with her along the way, although not physically; he really expresses his devotion and love to her by trying to find her even when she is believed dead. Aza’s family (both biological and foster) have depth and reasons for doing what they do or did. All in all, this was an enjoyable read, and the ending definitely has room for a sequel thrown in there.

For me though, there was a point in the story where I just couldn’t empathize with Aza. When she is in conflict over her families and chooses Magonia, the POV will switch to Jason, who is still looking for her. Like dude, you couldn’t even leave a message or something? And then I felt really bad for Jason because he doesn’t deserve that suffering. While Aza is out there frolicking with the new fam, Jason’s desperately trying to convince himself he’s not crazy. I know it wasn’t Aza’s fault, but it just really put a damper on things. Thanks Aza, for not dying (I guess).

I came for the world Magonia, I stayed for the headstrong character Aza and her loyal friend Jason. If there’s a sequel out there, I’ll definitely be looking out for it!


2 thoughts on “Maria Dahvana Headley – Magonia

  1. Olivia says:

    I really want to read this book, but was sadly declined my e-copy request 😦 I think it sounds like a moving story and a very detailed written one. Maybe not enough plot comes through in all the world-building, but being an aspiring writer myself I would love to see how this author handles it.

    • sourbamboo says:

      Well, I hope you get a copy of the book since it’s out now! I think as a writer you’ll learn a lot from the way Headley writes about Magonia! While the concept was amazing, though, there was no historical background that could have brought it more to life for me. Happy reading!

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