November 24, 2016

Magonia #1. Author: Maria Dahvana Headley.


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? (Published summary)

My Thoughts:

The narrator of Magonia is a wholly teenage voice, sarcastic and defensive and aggressive. The opening is well-played, in such a way that we expect the story to be another YA Terminal Illness story – one can practically predict the plot line. Snarky clever girl in highschool, nerdy best friend, refusal to admit that she’s dying; it’s all there.

Then bam everything’s changed, and you didn’t really think this was just another formulaic book, did you? Come on, Aza tells us, I was meant for more. I quite enjoyed Headley’s inventive new fantasy world, where ships sail the sky and their sailors sing their work to a finish. I did feel like it could have been better – although the advance-reviews praise Magonia for its lyricism, and there were some pretty turns of phrase, the language and tone was overall that of the current YA. Headley created a world that was pretty, but could have been beautiful.

Although the ending brought a sort of closure, there’s enough unresolved tension that it’s clear there are more to come.

Content Review:

Sexual content: Two kisses. “Maybe I’ve looked at some things on the internet in the category of naked. Who hasn’t?”

Language: 14 scatological terms, 10 hell, 4 F-words, 3 d***. “I raise on casual relevant finger at Jenny Green.”

Violence: Three people die in an explosion. Pirate is ‘executed’ by being thrown off a flying ship – she’s killed by vultures in mid-air. Character is hit by lightning (but not killed). Pirates board a ship, there is hand-to-hand fighting.

Other: MC’s best friend has two moms.


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