Friday, April 10, 2015

Early Review: Magonia by Maria Dahvana Headley

by Maria Dahvana Headley
Read: November 28 - December 1, 2014
Published:  April 28, 2015 by HarperCollins
Source: Edelweiss  (Thank You HC!)
Category: Flying ships, singing
Series: Magonia book 1 (I believe this is a duet)
Find: Goodreads | Amazon | B&N | Book Depository

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?

Three of my favorite things in Magonia:

1) Unique mythology. I've never read anything that explores the concepts of sky people, flying ships, birds and song in this way before. Magonia combines science and historical lore and mixes it with magic, then places all of that into our contemporary world. I really like that the author brings very contemporary teens into a fantastical setting, and also the way the author worked to explain how this Magonia society exists around our modern world. Aza's ability, what she can do with it, and how it fits into the Magonia culture is pretty cool as well.  

2) Jason's devotion to Aza. Jason and Aza have been best friends forever. They are both smart and a little bit quirky, and when the book begins there are hints of something more developing between them. I love how much Jason cares about Aza and believes in her all throughout this book. When Aza disappears Jason is devastated and becomes determined to find her. One of my favorite aspects of this book is reading the part of the story from his perspective. In some ways I connected better to Jason, and for me, several of the most emotional scenes in the book are moments he experiences. 

3) Aza's growth in the end. Aza has had a rough life. She has a rare lung disease that she knows will kill her soon. It is a constant worry for her and her family, and though she is in some ways a regular teen in high school, her life is always colored by her sickness. Then Aza gets taken out of her life and put into a very different setting with completely different rules and expectations. When that happens Aza doesn't know who she is any more, or where she fits, and I could sympathize with her confusion. Unsure of who to trust or who she should be, Aza gets led around for a while.  I wanted her to ask questions and start fighting for herself sooner than she does. But it was extremely rewarding when she did begin to make her own decisions and step out into herself. I was so proud of her by the end. 

Three things I wish about Magonia

1) This is one of those books that is not really a love triangle, but I wish I hadn't spent so much time worrying about the possibility. There is another boy that Aza meets and works with when she becomes separated from Jason, and I expended a lot of emotional angst fearing it would become a love triangle. The good news is that it doesn't become one, and I don't foresee it will in the future. The bad news is I worried about it for too long while reading, and it affected my experience a bit. However, I don't think most people having an issue with this situation at all, and it never really develops. 

2) I'd just started to grasp the world of Magonia when the story ended, and I can't fathom how this is all going to wrap up in one more book! There's so much I feel like I don't understand yet, and I have a lot of questions about this culture and people. I wish we'd gotten more in this book, but I'm excited to expand the world in the next installment!   

3) I wish the "humans are evil" plot wasn't so prevalent. A common refrain in books I've read that contain some sort of non-human society seems to be the 'humans are terrible and destroying the world with their wars and industry' trope. It's the idea that these "other" beings are better and more evolved than the careless humans, so they have a right to look down on us. Even if our species can be this way, I've gotten tired of seeing the theme over and over again as the basis for conflict between humans and other creatures. But this is perhaps more of my issue that this book's. 

Overall I really enjoyed Magonia and I'm excited to see where the story next takes Aza and Jason. 

Love Triangle Factor: None, though at least mild for feeling - A few elements made me nervous, but nothing materializes, and I don't predict any triangle in book 2. 
Cliffhanger Scale: Low/Medium - settled for now, but definite story to come. 


  1. I enjoyed this one a lot. It was so creative and strange! I really connected to Jason too and some of his chapters broke my heart. I'm worried about the triangle possibility myself. We'll have to see what happens in the sequel.

  2. Lovely review! I'm so excited for this book. I'm very excited to see all of the cool world elements you're talking about. Also: yay for no love triangle! Now I just need a great book where romance isn't the main focus...

    Sarcasm & Lemons

  3. Gorgeous review Lauren. <3 And yay :D I'm so glad that you liked this book :D I think the cover is so stunning. <3 But it sounds too weird for me, lol. Though I shall consider reading it once the sequel is out :) I'm so glad you liked the characters and the plot. <3 Jason sounds awesome. Sigh. I hope you'll love the sequel just as much :) Thank you so much for sharing about this book sweetie. <3

  4. Ooh, yes -- I have a hard time when there are two guys because I'm constantly on edge for the triangle to develop. Grr. It's also hard when you're just getting into the swing of the world and everything...and the story ends. Darn it all.

  5. I don't know why I originally assumed that this wasn't a me book, but I love everything that you mentioned in this review, I do love stories which feature two best friends and there's the possibility of something more developing. I'm sorry that you had to go through the feeling of a possible love triangle. I'm just glad that it didn't come about. I will definitely be giving this book a go after reading your review!

  6. I'm excited about reading this book…glad to hear you liked it so much. It does sound creative and unique. As far as the humans being terrible and destroying the world…yeah, we see that a lot. I always wonder if it's a plot device or whether the author is making a commentary on our responsibility to take care of the planet. etc. Great review! ~Pam


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