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I Belong

Review: Magonia by Maria Dahvana Headley

MagoniaTitle: Magonia

Author: Maria Dahvana Headley

Genre: YA Fantasy

Series: Magonia (Book #1)

Publication Date: April 28, 2015

Format: Hardcover, 320 Pages

ISBN-10: 0062320521 (HarperCollins)

ISBN-13: 978-0062320520 (HarperCollins)

Reviewed by: Zed


Maria Dahvana Headley’s soaring YA debut is a fiercely intelligent, multilayered fantasy where Neil Gaiman’s Stardust meets John Green’s The Fault in Our Stars in a story about a girl caught between two worlds . . . two races . . . and two destinies.

Aza Ray Boyle 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—but as she navigates her new life, she discovers that war between Magonia and Earth is coming. In Aza’s hands lies fate of the whole of humanity—including the boy who loves her. Where do her loyalties lie?

Quick & Dirty: A fantastical tale beginning with dying on earth but living in Magonia, and trying to ensure the survival of both worlds.

Opening Sentence: I breathe in.

Excerpt: Yes

The Review:

I’ve seen Magonia on a number of blogs as one of the ‘most anticipated 2015’ reads and after reading it I can see why.

I’m surprised I never added this to my mental list of books I want to read. It’s honestly amazing BUT, and I hate myself for having to say this, there were a few times when I picked the book up and found it a leeetle difficult to get back into the story. I don’t know if it was because I had so much other stuff going on at home with my brother’s wedding, but halfway into the book it was almost a struggle to enjoy it. I want to blame this on the craziness that was taking place in my life as opposed to the book itself, so now that I’ve mentioned this once I will not repeat myself.

Aza Ray and Jason are two characters that are impossible to forget. They are super geeks who are unfazed by the hardest challenges, but what I loved most was their faith in each other. Even after Aza ‘dies’ Jason won’t give up on her. He promised he’d find her and if that means tracking ships in the sky, perusing through century old documents and scrounging for the smallest bit of hope, then Jason will use all his resources and energy to do this. His dedication and determination to find Aza, even as everyone around him, sometimes Jason included, thought he was losing it, was inspiring. Totally in love with him.

Where am I supposed to go, exactly? Aza’s in a little box in the ground. 
The grave is too small for me to get into it, scrunch my knees up to my chest, and let them cover me up. But how can there be a rest of my life?

Equally unusual is Aza Ray (she has the kind of name that you want to quote in full). Her struggle to stay alive on Earth for the limited time she has doesn’t detract her from doing what she wants. Her fierce personality and snarky wit made me smile and I can’t imagine a better protagonist for this story.

No no no. He’s human. I keep reminding myself that I’m not. But oh my god oh my god, my heart. My heart feels human.

Aza and Jason are two of a kind so when she ‘dies’ and is taken to Magonia my heart sank. I knew this couldn’t be the end to their story but I was wary of Dai’s increasing involvement too. So happy about the ending though (no spoilers but you can guess where this is heading).

People keep saying infuriating things about fate and chance and bad luck and how she had an amazing life despite it being only fifteen years, eleven months, and twenty-five days long. I don’t feel like this is amazing. I feel very, very unamazed. [Jason]

I adored the writing in this book, it’s unlike any I’ve come across before. Some sentences made no sense but I understood exactly how the character felt and what emotions the author was trying to portray. Maybe that makes me crazy too but it’s an awesome feeling to be so connected to a scene/character that you don’t need a full on detailed page of prose to comprehend what’s happening.

This is sucking, Az.
I hate it. I’m scared that maybe I’m missing some kind of giant point, something everyone else knows, that I’m trying to hunt down a dead girl who doesn’t even exist anymore, a dead girl who’s gone and now alive only as a figment of my Vivid Imagination, like Aza always said she had. Me and Aza; Vivid Imaginers. Maybe I should just be taking myself to her grave, and sitting down beside it, and saying, for once and for all, good-bye.
But I don’t think she’s dead. And I don’t think I’m crazy. [Jason]

One thing I found odd was that Aza never asked about her biological father whilst she was on the ship. Surely when a stranger tells you that she is your ‘real’ mother, the first question would be, ‘then who’s my dad?’ Right? Clearly not the case here…

Additionally, there were parts that were confusing as hell but I think that’s what the author was going for (I hope). Birdlike humans isn’t a new concept but the introduction of bird/human/pirates was definitely original. In fact, some of the characters were beyond bizarre like the ghost-bird, but the writing and the way they were incorporated into the story made them all very real.

“Are you sure he’s-“
“I’ve never seen him, Aza, and I would have if he were real. He’s nothing. Old sadness with a loud voice. Broken bonds are serious things. Sometimes death doesn’t close them…”

I imagine the next book will be just as fantastical and I’m looking forward to it, especially because of the awesome finale. However, I don’t think I will be going in with as high expectations as a lot of others out there.

Notable Scene:

“There’s an increased likelihood of something,” I say experimentally.


“You know. Soon. Very soon.”

“You’ve been dying since forever,” says Jason, who doesn’t respect the rules. “And if they think things are accelerating, they’re wrong. You look good.”

He glances at me.

“For you, you look good.”

Magonia Series:

1. Magonia


FTC Advisory: HarperCollins provided me with a copy of Magonia. No goody bags, sponsorships, “material connections,” or bribes were exchanged for my review.


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