Published by HarperCollins on April 28th, 2015
Genres: fantasy, young adult
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Maria Dahvana Headley's soaring YA debut is a fiercely intelligent, multilayered fantasy where Neil Gaiman's Stardust meets John Green'sThe 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?
Those that follow me on Twitter know that I have been raving about the awesomeness of this book since I started it. I meant every word. I’ve just never read anything like this before. I knew from the blurb that I was expecting a fantasy/contemporary mash-up. That is what I got, but it’s so much more than that. What you will find in the pages of Magonia is something pretty much indescribable by words.
The book starts out with a dying girl. She has an illness that no one else in the world has ever been diagnosed with before, so they name it after her. She goes through life constantly feeling like she is suffocating on air. Her skin is tinged blue and she doesn’t look like anyone else. Her best friend Jason and she are just discovering their feelings for each other when she starts seeing ships in the sky and someone yelling her name from above. A bunch of birds land in her yard and she is taken up into the sky and away from the life she has always known. Meanwhile, on earth, her family and friends think she has died. But she hasn’t. Aza Ray is Magonian.
Well, okay, so the hardest part of this book for me to get through was believing that all the weather and storms we experience on earth are made by Magonians and squall whales. In this world there are whales in the sky making it rain from their blowholes. Sorry, did you laugh? Me too, a little. It’s a bit hard to believe. But somehow it all comes together and almost, ALMOST works. That’s why I took off the half star, by the way. The premise was just a little too much for me at times.
But that doesn’t mean it wasn’t awesome. Because, man, this may be my favorite book of 2015. It is DEFINITELY the most original. The oddest.
The writing was astonishing. It was poetic and with a verse-y vibe in places, but that never bothered me. It was vivid and atmospheric. It made me feel things. It engaged me in ways I haven’t been in a very long time. The characters come to life and make you feel like they are standing right next to you. They have interests, histories, different voices, and none of that is info-dumped on you in a boring way. The story is told from two POVs: Jason’s and Aza’s, and it was never unclear who was speaking because they are both brilliant, quirky, amazing people who love each other deeply, and it shows.
The Magonians are vibrant and colorful. You learn about them and the world-building in very interesting ways. In fact, reading about Magonia and the evolution of the world-building was probably my favorite part. But I also don’t feel like I got enough of it. There was no time spent in the capital city of Magnewetar, though it is mentioned a number of times. It’s just all so fantastical that I feel like I barely got a taste. And for that reason, I really freaking hope this isn’t a standalone. I don’t feel like Magonia quite got its happy ending. Even if this ends up being the only book, though, I loved every word. It’s a must-read because it’s the type of book that only the most creative of minds could dream up.