Review: Magonia by Maria Dahvana Headley (Magonia #1)


Magonia by Maria Dahana Headley // VBC ReviewMagonia (Magonia #1)
Maria Dahvana Headley
Published: April 28, 2015 (HarperCollins)
Purchase: Book Depository or Amazon
Review source: purchased

Reviewed by: Amy

Rating (out of 5): 4.5 stars

Aza Ray Boyle has been dying for as long as she can remember. Her life has been spent in and out of hospitals with doctors stumped as to what exactly is wrong with Aza. Basically, her lungs don’t work like they should and she has trouble breathing. Her family, including childhood best friend Jason, have been on high alert her whole life, but every time there is a scare they’ve been there for her and have kept her alive even long past the numerous times doctors say Aza should have died.

It’s nearing Aza’s sixteenth birthday, another milestone she’s not supposed to reach, and she wants to celebrate. Of course this is when things start to go wrong. When Aza sees a ship in the sky and hears a voice calling her name, her parents just think she’s hallucinating, that it’s an effect of her medicine. It’s not. And after a particularly awful attack of her lungs, Aza is pulled out of the life she once knew and is thrust into the world of Magonia. A world where bird-like beings sail on ships in the sky and just may be responsible for that really bad weather that hit your hometown last week. This particular vessel has been searching for Aza for fifteen years. Now, besides coming to terms with who she really is, Aza has to figure out what to trust about this new world.

I remember hearing about this book last year before it came out. I knew I wanted to read it, but it was one that, unfortunately, was relegated to the bottomless pit that is my To Be Read list. So when I did pick it for review, I scarcely remembered what it was about. Birds of course, I mean look at that cover. So I dived in.

Initial impression: Aza was difficult to handle. She’s kind of resigned to the fact that at some point she’s going to die, even if those who love her aren’t so reconciled. The running diatribe that opens the book in Aza’s words makes it clear that she’s trying very hard not to care about anything anymore. Yet, it’s the series of sweet devotions we see throughout the book (particularly between Aza and her friend Jason) that really tied me to these characters and made me want things to work out.

“I {       } you more than [[[{{{((       ))}}}]]]”, read it and you’ll understand.

But when the sky, literally, opens up it was probably one of the most magnificent/heartbreaking series of moments I’ve ever read. Magonia is such a unique reading experience. Headley’s imagery is straight up terrifying and strangely beautiful in equal parts. And Headley does a great job of introducing all the parts that run through Magonia, even briefly in some cases, to make the world feel very rounded out. While I would have loved more in-depth information about certain characters, this was Aza’s story first and foremost. Aza’s character growth really endeared her to me by the end, but it’s all very finite. Some things started here will carry over into the next book.

If you’re looking for something different, something that takes a little known mythology and turns it into a cleverly crafted, fantastical story, read this. I know I’m definitely going to be looking at the clouds a bit differently from now on.

Sexual content: kissing

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