MAGONIA :: MARIA DAHVANA HEADLEY
RATING: 3 STARS
SUMMARY: Aza Ray is sick as shit. She’s prone to coughing fits, ambulance rides, and a good dose of pessimism. She starts hallucinating ships in the sky, voices start calling her name, and all of the neighborhood birds start appearing in her room. Everyone think she’s gone more than a little crazy, except the even crazier friend-zoned Jason. Then, just as Jason is about to be unfriend-zoned (round of applause for Jason, everyone), Aza kicks the bucket. Except not. Instead of dying like a normal person, she winds up swashbuckling on a flying ship crewed by god damn BIRD PEOPLE. And while Aza is busy saving Magonia (apparently she’s hot shit up there), a pi reciting Jason embarks on a quest to find her and bring her back to earth.
REVIEW: Magonia. Oh, Magonia. I really wanted to give this lovely book four stars. It was beautiful and whimsical .. buuuttt, maybe a little too whimsical. THERE IS SUCH POTENTIAL HERE. But it is almost completely squandered by the fact that none of it makes sense. I honestly think that when Headley was creating the world of Magonia, she just tossed ideas into a hat and pulled them out one by one. Or, she based it off some crazy-ass MadLib she wrote when she was like, ten. Ships in the sky, a secret civilization .. I get that part. But birds flying into chest cavities? Uh-uh. An entire war being stopped by some freaking plant in Norway? Hell no. Invisible ropes dropping from the sky and ripping you out of your skin, but don’t worry you’ll be okay because it wasn’t actually your real skin? MAKE IT STOP!
There was no cohesion to the world building, no background story. It wasn’t rooted in anything, and that made it very hard to believe. A world, even if it’s fantasy, has to have rules for the reader to buy it. There has to be a reason for the supernatural powers, and consequences and laws to using it. Magonia was just straight up magic-anarchy.
The writing, however was BEAUTIFUL. Yes, all caps beautiful. It’s honestly what saved this book for me. Headley has a gorgeous way with words, and brings in fresh fodder for the YA masses. The way she sets scenes up, and couches them in setting and time, is unbelievable (squid scene, I’m looking at you). The world she has created is entirely new (to me at least), which is saying something in a genre that has been flooded with recycled ideas for as long as I’ve been reading it. Other than the dreaded love-triangle poking its nasty, over-used head into the story at a couple of points, I felt like I was reading an entirely original book.
As far as characters go, Hazel Grace I mean AZA RAY, was a straight up Debbie Downer. And whiny to boot. I understand why (she has been dying all her life, after all), but it made it hella annoying to read the majority of the story in her voice. The first few pages were amusing thanks to this morbid, devil-may-care sense of humor, but a few hundred pages later I was halfway hoping she’d just die like she was supposed to. Jason’s POV was a fair bit better … he has more than a few screws loose, and it was intriguing to see the world through his eyes.
Aerie, the sequel, just came out on October 4. Haven’t yet gotten my claws on it, but I’m looking forward to reading it and hopefully getting a little more information and insight into this crazy, half-baked story.
I’d love to hear your thoughts on this crazy book! What do you think of the world building? Aza Ray and Jason? Has anyone read Aerie?