AUTHOR: MARIA DAHVANA HEADLEY
PUBLISHED: 28TH APRIL, 2015 BY HARPERCOLLINS
GENRE: YOUNG ADULT, FANTASY (URBAN?), ROMANCE
SERIES: MAGONIA #1
FORMAT I OWN: PAPERBACK
MY RATING: 3/5 STARS
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?
Hello bookworms and welcome. I am bringing to you on this fine Friday, a book chat for Magonia by Maria Dahvana Headley. Magonia is a beautifully written debut novel that is quoted to be a “fiercely intelligent, multi-layered fantasy where Neil Gaiman’s Stardust meets John Green’s The Fault in Our Stars“. I wouldn’t say this is the case. True, Magonia is a beautifully written novel intertwined with a fresh and new fantasy concept.
As with all my reviews, I begin with discussing the characters in this book. As you can see, my rating for the character/development element in Magonia was a two out of five star rating for me. I felt like the characters were not built very well through out the story and I couldn’t really connect to them, especially our main character. However, there were of course specks of light in the darkness.
Aza Ray is our main protagonist, a girl suffering from a strange and unknown lung disease. She is basically choking in thin air. For all her life, she’s been stuck with a lung disease that she knows will eventually kill her and one day it does, but she doesn’t die. She awakens not in the home she knew for fifteen years, but a new one. Called Magonia.
Aza was a character that I simply didn’t like when I first started reading about her. I thought she was quite pessimistic and all doom and gloom about her situation. She isn’t a bright and happy protagonist. She comes off as quite the trouble maker in fact, in the beginning. We see her character shift and change slightly as she grows to learn more of Magonia. She was very conflicted in terms of what she believed in. She didn’t know what she believed or who she trusted. Of course, it’s hard to when you’re thrust into a whole new world so suddenly with a “you’re the one whose going to save us and our world” title on her shoulders.
Jason is I suppose, our second main character in this book and we get to know him as this book is written in the dual perspective of Jason and Aza. I loved Jason more than Aza as a character. He is smart, and specifically, tech smart. he hacks into official computer systems and seems to have little connections on the internet, however, this aspect of him is not shown in great detail. He’s also got mental problems of his own – an anxiety problem. He rambles a lot and recites the numbers of pi when he gets nervous.
I just found Jason to be a very heart-warming character. I found myself really looking forward to the chapters that were written in his perspective. He’s determined, so ever loyal to Aza and ready to do almost anything to find the truth and to find Aza. He was the light in the dark when it came to characters.
The side characters fell slightly flat and two-dimensional, however, there were highlights. Aza’s family were written great. Her parents were so caring and loving and there for her. Her sister was another light and stand out point for me. She was well written for a side character, one of the only greatly written ones in my opinion. I also liked how Headley incorporated Jason as having two mums. They were not seen often, but they were loving and caring towards Jason and it was a nice touch of diversity.
Let us move on to the plot of the novel. Two stars out of five. That’s sad, but I can’t help but give this kind of low rating for the plot. It felt all over the place. It also felt very rushed. I felt like I was constantly and abruptly jumping from one scene to the other without much closure. It felt like the story spanned over the course of maybe a day or two, when in fact that was not the case. For this kind of book, I felt like there should have been more development before the final scenes. More development into the world and the conflict before what happened. When Aza claimed everything was falling into place in her head I just couldn’t feel myself picking up and piecing the pieces together with her. So sadly, this is where the downfall occurred. I wasn’t fully invested in this story until page 282 and by that point the novel was almost over!
Also, I felt like the romance was abrupt. It was touching, yes but it didn’t feel like it was developed enough. I needed more development from it, that’s all.
Headley’s writing style kept this novel up very close to a 4 star rating. Her writing really was intelligently and beautifully executed. Of course, I was not gripped by it from the beginning, as you read earlier, I wasn’t gripped until the very last minute, her writing was a joy to read. She really tugged at my heart strings at the end of the novel, to the point where I surprised myself with almost bursting into tears. It was a strangely emotional moment at the end that left me tear-eyed and smiling.
Overall, Magonia is a fresh and wonderfully written fantasy novel. It was a disappointment for me, but that didn’t take away the fact that it was entertaining to read, especially after 60% the way through. I will definitely remember the second half of the book and will be picking up the second book when it comes out next year, to see how everything goes from there.