Book Review: Magonia by Maria Dahvana Headley
I rated it 5 out of 5 stars.
Overview: 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?
Review: I finished this book two weeks ago, and yet I still can't stop thinking about it. When I picked up the book at the bookstore, I instantly fell for the cover. But you know what they say, you can't judge a book by its cover, so I put it back down. But then I saw 'Stardust meets The Fault in Our Stars,' two books that I absolutely love! So I took the chance, bought the hardcover and took it home.
When I finished, all I could do is sit and think, this is why I read YA. This is why I want to write YA. It was that good.
It beautifully combines science fiction with magical realism, and a tiny bit of historical aspect, yet grounds it in reality. Because Headley's able to pull that off, it blew me away. Yes, it was similar to Stardust and The Fault in Our Stars in some way, but it was able to hold its own in originality and prose. The characters are genuine and flawed at the same time, making them dynamic and believable. I'll admit in the first few chapters I didn't particularly like Aza's voice, but it wasn't awful that I couldn't get past it. And as I went along, I began to sympathize with her and could understand her mild ranting.
The book as a whole, however, was charming, elegant, and captivating. At times it touched my heart. I teared up twice surprisingly. But it kept me surprised throughout and did a great job with pacing. Towards the end, I kind of guessed what would happen, but it didn't take away from the emotional appeal to finish. As a beginning of a series, it was strong, well thought out, with beautiful imagery that leaves an impression upon the mind.
Now do yourself a favor and read this book. Not because it's my new favorite YA, but because I know you'll love it too.
I know everyone has dreams of flying, but this isn’t a dream of flying. It’s a dream of floating, and the ocean is not water but wind.
I call it a dream, but it feels realer than my life.