Magonia – 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?
Review: I’m not a huge fan of this book. It has great reviews on Goodreads, so maybe this is a case of “It’s not you, it’s me.”
Aza has spent her entire life struggling to breathe. No doctor has been able to help her, and nobody can explain how she is still alive. A few days before her sixteenth birthday, she discovers what is causing her illness—and the cause turns out to be crazier than anyone could have predicted. Aza does not belong in this world.
This book is so imaginative. I’ve never read anything like it, and it’s a refreshing change. I like the strange plot and the feeling that literally anything could happen next. This is a bizarre book: People change skins, birds crawl down the characters’ throats, and there are boats in the sky. It’s weird (in an intriguing way).
I just couldn’t connect with Aza. I didn’t like her at all. Her voice got on my nerves, and she’s very bitchy. I understand that she’s sick, but she doesn’t have to act so whiny, judgmental, and superior to others. It was difficult for me to read from her perspective. She does get more bearable as the story progresses, but I never grew to care about her, so I had a hard time staying interested in her story.
I did care about Jason. He’s not entirely believable as a teenage character, but I (somewhat) admire his dedication to Aza. He knows that she’s out there somewhere, and she might need help, so he won’t stop until he finds her, even if his mission makes him seem crazy. I enjoyed most of the chapters written from his point-of-view.
A lot of things about this story feel flimsy. It could have used more everything: more character development, more worldbuilding, more description (I couldn’t picture any of the non-human characters), more action, more explanation of the plot events. I just wanted more.
I can totally understand why people love this book. It’s definitely unique. I actually think that all wannabe YA authors should read it because the genre could use an injection of creativity. It just didn’t work for me.