Book Review – Magonia

Book: Magonia (Magonia 1) by Maria Dahvana Headley
Release Date: April 28th 2015
Genre: Fantasy
Reading Format: Hardcover
Edition: English edition by HarperCollins
Rating: 3,5 out of 5 stars




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 am so conflicted about this book. This was one of my most anticipated new releases of 2015, and with sadness I have to say that I was somewhat disappointed by it.

This doesn’t mean this is a bad book. It certainly isn’t. The writing by the author is great. She has a strong, lyrical prose. There are sentences that really hit an emotional cord, especially between the two main characters. For most of the book we follow Aza Ray. Her narration took some getting used to in the first few chapters but then I was hooked by her. Normally I am not drawn to writing styles and narrations where words are put into squares and such things. But this time I wasn’t bothered by it. I think this was because I felt it suited the characters.

Unfortunately the book didn’t keep its hooks into me for long. Once the true fantasy elements started to show and the world was laid out for us, this book started going over my head. It certainly wasn’t what I had expected, though maybe the stunning cover should have clued me in a little more. The birds in the chest and singing aspects of this world just did not work for me at all. I found it hard to believe, and I could not connect with it.

There was also a portion in the midway sections where we as readers, together with Aza, had a lot of questions, but very little was answered. We were just expected to accept it all, just like that. Aza too. I found that very frustrating, and I think it is one of the reasons why I had such a hard time connecting with the fantasy elements. We got some answers later but by then it was too late for me. I also feel that the ending to the plot was not as strong as it could have been.

However the characters were well worth the read. I really enjoyed the narration by Aza Ray once I got used to it. She’s smart, but a bit jaded due to her sickness. She made me laugh at times. Her friendship with Jason was great. Jason as a character was great, and I also enjoyed his narration in those few chapters. However him being able to get everything by hacking and what not, I found a tad unbelievable.

Aza’s family and Jason’s family were great. There is a lot of love there, and I could feel it through the pages. However the characters that we meet in the fantasy section of the book with Aza don’t stand out as much. Again this might be because I had a hard time connecting with that portion of the book. I think only Dai stood out somewhat, this because of his connection to Aza. He did get some background that made me more sympathetic to him.

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