Magonia by Maria Dahvana Headley | Book Review


This is actually weirdly comforting for someone who’s pretty sure that she’s about to die. Having a dad who’s willing to declare war against an institution as deeply rooted as Big Bird is not nothing.

Blurb (Goodreads)- 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?

Thoughts- Even after watching videos of this book, reading other reviews about this book, and a full 24 hours after finishing, I still don’t know what to think about Magonia. At times, I really did love this book, but at others times I really ended up hating it. So, this will be a very self-conflicted review. You’ve been warned.

The beginning of the book, when it’s set down on plain old Earth, I completely and utterly loved. Aza was snarky and hilarious, her family was so cute and loving (including Jason who isn’t blood family but Aza’s BFF), and the mystery surrounding Aza’s disease was intriguing enough to keep reading.

The synopsis is extremely misleading because I thought that Magonia was basically going to be a Pirates of the Caribbean-esque story set in the sky. While there were pirates, they were far from the focus (unfortunately). Instead I was transported into a world with flying ships inhabited by human/bird hybrids that have little birds living inside their organs that sing with them, which lets their owner do magic. What?!?

magonia quote

Now, I’ve read a lot of weird books, and while I applaud Headley for coming up with a completely unique book, this was just WAY too out there for me. After Aza dies (this isn’t a spoiler, don’t worry), I feel like everything went downhill. Aza lost all of her personality and charm that made me like her, some weird love triangle popped up, and I was constantly confused and had to keep reading sentences, even pages.

The writing style is quite unique as well. If you’ve read Shatter Me by Tahereh Mafi, it is very reminiscent of that. Much like the characters and plot, it stated out extremely poetic and beautiful, and brought the characters and the hardships they face to life, but it quickly became too much. I didn’t understand Jason’s chapters with reciting pi (I found it annoying) and the [[{{     }}]] stuff. No clue what those meant. Headley also used the occasional cross out which is my least favorite style method to exist.

Overall, Magonia is a book that starts out extremely strong and build so much potential for itself, but goes way downhill quickly. If the concept and writing style seems like your thing, I’d say go for it, but if not I’d pass on this one.


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