Review: Magonia by Maria Dahvana Headley

magoniaThis book is said to be like Neil Gaiman’s Stardust crossed with John Green’s The Fault in Our Stars. I was dubious, of course, but how could I resist? That’s two books I like a lot that are completely different from each other – I wondered how they figured in Magonia. So I read it. And yes, I guess one could say that it’s like Stardust in that it has a flying ship and a character raised outside of the community that they’re supposed to thrive in. And it’s like The Fault in Our Stars in that it has a girl dying of chronic illness who is in love with a boy. So yeah, it’s kind of true, in the same way that it’s true that Witch Week is like Harry Potter’s emo cousin with more flying hoes and shoe showers.

Magonia is about Aza, who is so special she has a disease named after her. She has some mysterious lung disease, and the doctors don’t know what’s wrong with her. All they know is that she can’t breathe, not without help, and not for long. She’s been sick for so long that her classmates see her as a nuisance, the weird dying girl that never actually dies. Aza doesn’t really care about this, because she has Jason, the best friend that she’s also in love with. But then she sees a ship in the sky, and everyone tells her she’s hallucinating because of all her medication, and she hear someone from the ship calling her name.

Of course, Aza soon finds out that she isn’t really human, and is part of a sky-dwelling race. They can’t breathe in our air – which explains Aza’s lung disease. Taken back to the skies, to Magonia, she can finally breathe, and learns that she is powerful, but Aza thinks that it isn’t worth it if she has to leave Jason behind.

I gave this book four stars on GR because I really enjoyed reading it, and I liked the writing, and there were parts that gave me FEELS and when I finished it I wanted the next book, but of course it isn’t perfect. Reading from Aza’s POV can be tiresome; for someone supposedly smart she believes too easily, and while I understand that she must miss her best friend and her family, after a certain point she starts sounding like a kid chanting, “I want to go home” over and over. (Also, she seems to miss Jason more than her family.) Jason’s POV is far more interesting, as he grieves for Aza (thinking that she died) and tries to find out about Magonia. The worldbuilding is both fascinating and not-enough. I would have loved to see the details of the world fleshed out, and I’m not usually the sort of reader that wants to be overburdened with details. And still – I liked it, a lot.

Read if you like: flying ships, lyrical/poetic writing, a magic system that uses singing
Do not read if you dislike: human-sized birds that can talk and do regular people things


* Magonia will be published on April 28th, 2015
 cross-posted to Dreaming Out Loud

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s