Published by: HarperTeen on April 28, 2015
Genre: Fantasy, Romance, Science Fiction, Young Adult
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?
Maria Dahvana Headley's soaring YA debut is a fiercely intelligent, multilayered fantasy rich with symbolism and steeped in allegory. Her John Green–meets–Neil Gaiman approach to character development and world building will draw readers of all genres, who will come for the high-concept journey through the sky and stay for the authentic, confused, questioning teen voices. Jason and Aza’s fight to find each other somewhere between sky and earth is the perfect anchor for Headley’s gorgeous, wildly vivid descriptions of life in Magonia.
I was SO excited for Magonia! I mean.. ships! In the sky! That’s bloody brilliant! I couldn’t wait!!!
Magonia & I got off on the wrong foot
Do you ever just know that a writing style isn’t for you? I don’t even have any concrete examples from Magonia, all I can say is that I couldn’t click with the writing and the characters’ personalities. The writing style almost had this underlying poetic/lyrical feel. It wasn’t constant though, it just wove in and out at certain times. It became particularly evident during the distressing scenes, especially when we saw from Jason’s point of view around 25% in. There were long strings of the Pi sequence scattered throughout his paragraphs. Then there was this whole metaphoric thing with him “honking” everything. Like a car honk?
The cars are honking my list.
YOU LOOK LIKE NO ONE ELSE ON EARTH, I honk. The town honks it in echo.
YOU HAVE SPIKES ALL OVER YOUR HEART, I honk.
I honk: I CAN’T BELIEVE I KEPT FORGETTING YOU WERE DYING.
Aza’s dad is driving. He flashes me a sign, and then he honks his own Morse, actual Morse, carefully done.
Some people are really into lyrical, ‘different’ writing styles. I’m not. I just can’t click with it. It was really hard for me to get through like 35% of the book with a writing style I couldn’t connect with and characters that were borderline irksome. BUT I WANTED TO SEE THE SKY SHIPS!!! So I hung in there.
Then came the bird people
I think the bird feather on the cover of Magonia should have been a clue. I thought it was just a cool artsy thing. Nope. It’s there because the book is all about BIRD PEOPLE.
Birds. Who are like people. But not people. But similar to people. But they’re still birds. Whaaaaaa?
A HUMAN-SIZE OWL, a, what? WHAT? A WORLD-CLASS HALLUCINATION.
The owl stretches long yellow fingers and runs one over my forehead. It clacks its beak at me.
“Still fevered,” it says.
The bird thing has a beakish nose and lips. It’s not a bird. It’s not human. It’s neither. It’s also both.
As soon as this came into play, I knew I was going to DNF the book. I would have had no problem with people who could shapeshift into birds. Real birds. Birds who don’t talk or walk like people. But nope. Instead, we got human-sized birds who could walk, talk, and think like people. I just had this image in my head and it was so weird and childish and not something I could get on board with. I kept seeing these owl people in my head a bit like this:
Bye bye, book.