Wednesday, March 4, 2015

Book Review: Magonia

Release Date: April 28, 2015
Author: Maria Dahvana Headley
Publisher: HarperCollins
Length: 320 pages

Neil Gaiman’s Stardust meets John Green’s The Fault in Our Stars in this fantasy about a girl caught between two worlds…two races…and two destinies.

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?



Protagonists: This book is told from the perspective of both Aza and Jason, though Jason has considerably less chapters than Aza does. I'm really torn on how I feel about these characters, on the one hand I found that I really did care about these characters, even when I had a good idea how things would turn out for them, but also they didn't really have much character development, and the bit they did was either tied to their romance or went at an awkward or jolted speed. The thing is there are a lot of unexplained or very glossed over moments in this book where even a Deus Ex Machina would seem more real than what happens, a lot fo which involves these characters connections, which is why I put it in this section.

Romance: The romance in this book is actually very light, I had expected something more intense, but it's just barely there, which would be great if it weren't for the love triangle. I've said it before and I'll say it again, I don't dislike love triangles simply for being love triangles as I've seen a lot that work really well, but there is one trope in some love triangles that I loathe entirely. It's when there are magical races involved and the the main character, be they human or something else, falls for or gets tangles up in a love triangle between someone not of their race and someone who is like them. That's because 90% of the time the person that is like them looks on the other love interest with disgust and claims that they belong with the main character, or that the other love interest doesn't belong with the main character, only because of their race. It really pisses me off and for most of the the book, if not all of it that's how Dai, another Magonian acts.

World-Building: The book starts off like your average sick-lit book, it has a contemporary feel even though it's obvious that it's not contemporary, and it takes about eight chapters to really get into the actual world-building. Let me just say this world is freaking insane. It's like something out of an intense fever dream. When Aza finally gets to Magonia and we learn just what it is, all I could think was "Who the hell comes up with something like this?" This wasn't a bad thought mind you as the the world-building is really interesting, though it did feel a little lacking in places and using lines like, (paraphrasing) "I could tell you about Magonia for a hundred years and barely scratch the surface" and "Do you know everything about earth? Why would I know everything about Magonia?" which just sort of cheapened it a bit. There was also the writing style and as some of you already know I'm not great at articulating how I feel about writing styles usually saying that something just felt off. Well, this writing is very stream of consciousness and very sporadic, using awkward typography mixed with sentence fragments, I was fine with it for the most part, but after a while it really started to bug me.

Predictability: Because this book is so different and weird it was hard to really predict how certain things were going to go. Couple that with the awkward movements in plot and there were only a select few things that I was actually able to predict. It was weird only being able to guess large and vague things that happened and even some of the things I was so sure were going to happen, that never really happened at all.

Ending: So I was expecting this book to be a stand alone, and maybe it still is, but while the main story is fairly neatly wrapped up despite some lingering questions, Aza reminds the readers that it's not over yet. Which is weird because if I was in her situation I'd probably think the worst was behind me. Anyway, I'm not sure I'm ready for a sequel, this book is bizarre and the characters are a little too developed for my taste.


So I'm not going to lie, there was a lot about this book that I liked, but on the whole it didn't do all that much for me. Between the weird love triangle, the awkward writing style, and glossed over moments and bit of world-building, this book could have been a whole lot better.


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