Thursday, April 16, 2015

Review: Magonia by Maria Dahvana Headley

Magonia by Maria Dahvana Headley
Release Date: April 28, 2015
Publisher: HarperCollins

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?

This is one of those books that I finish, put down, say huh, and try to figure out why I liked it so much.  It has to be one of the strangest stories I've ever read in my life.  Boats in the sky?  Bird people?  Flying whales that can cause storm cloud clover, etc...  I don't normally go for this type of book, but I received a free copy from the publisher in exchange for an honest review, so I went ahead and read it, despite the fact that it is not typically a story I would like.  I'm glad I did.

I was oddly fascinated from the first page by Aza and her health situation.  She has, since the time she was a small baby, had to struggle to breathe.  It's like our air is too heavy for her and her lungs labor to suck it down.  There's more to it than that, of course, but we don't find out right away what is causing this issue.

Aza is the main narrator, but once every few chapters, Jason gets a chapter of his own.  At first, I was a little bothered by the fact that both their narratives sounded alike.  Once circumstances around both of them change, however, it changes the narratives a bit as well, so that situation was resolved for me.

I really liked Aza, especially once she figures out what's going on, what she has to do about it, and then she actually begins to take independent action.  She became less and less a victim of her health circumstances, and grew into a newer persona that carried with it some bravery and self-sacrifice which I really liked.

Jason is someone I wasn't sure I would like because he's not your typical hero.  But I found myself really loving him for the amount time and research he invests into what's going on.  His care for Aza drives him, and I respected him so much for the great lengths to which he will go for her.

If I had any real complaints about the story, I would have to say I didn't like how it ended.  There wasn't enough closure for me.  It ended in such a way that things were concluded and all the plot threads were there, but it was left open enough for the possibility of a sequel.  Although I'm not sure that it will have one or not.

The author is obviously very imaginative, and really made the things we see come alive.  They were vivid and interesting.  I liked this so much, so if there is a sequel, I will definitely want to know what comes next.

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