Tuesday, July 7, 2015

Review: Magonia by Maria Dahvana Headley

Title: Magonia
Author: Maria Dahvana Headley
Genre: Young Adult, Paranormal Fantasy
Source: HarperCollins via Edelweiss

Maria Dahvana Headley's soaring YA debut is a fiercely intelligent, multilayered fantasy where Neil Gaiman's Stardust meets John Green's The Fault in Our Stars in a story about a girl caught between two worlds . . . two races . . . and two destinies.

Aza Ray Boyle 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--but as she navigates her new life, she discovers that war between Magonia and Earth is coming. In Aza's hands lies fate of the whole of humanity--including the boy who loves her. Where do her loyalties lie?
Review by Nara

Wow, what an odd novel.

Not going to lie, I was confused for at least the first third of the book. I think this is because the idea of the story is just so new it took a while for me to get used to it. Aza is a member of certainly the oddest race of creatures I've ever encountered in any book, Young Adult or otherwise. Apparently the book is based on a French folk tale about a race of creatures who live in the sky. Seriously, where the heck would you even have heard about this folk tale? And then twist it so that it's this weird! Such a unique idea.

An aspect that perhaps wasn't so favourable was the romance. I actually didn't mind the romance between Aza and Jason, because it was one of those best friends become something more sorts of romances (complicated by Aza's illness and poor prognosis). It was clear that the two had some sort of chemistry going on, and that was an easy relationship to ship. On the other hand, in the second half of the book, there's this other character who is introduced whose sole role seems to be as a love interest for Aza (and not even that good of one to be honest). I didn't really like that he never seemed to be developed beyond that, particularly because it seemed like he could be quite an interesting character. Oh well, sequels, I guess.

One place where Magonia shines is the writing. The writing is just beautiful. I can see why a lot of people have compared it to Daughter of Smoke and Bone, because it definitely has the same lyrical, flowing quality. Add the writing to the creative premise and the book is really one that's unique. Please do give it a read if you're looking for something fresh in YA.

Really liked it

Overall: 8/10
Plot: 4/5
Romance: 3.5/5
Writing: 5/5
World Building: 3/5
Characters: 4/5
Cover: 4/5