Tuesday, May 5, 2015

'Magonia' by Maria Dahvana Headley


Neil Gaiman’s Stardust meets John Green’s The Fault in Our Stars in this fantasy about a girl caught between two worlds... two races…and two destinies.

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 such a beautiful story. It stunned me. The world was amazing and creative. It's a fantastic idea. 

The characters are great. They're cool people. I would definitely hang out with them. 
Aza is a great character. She's sweet. And doesn't let her condition push her down. She powers through it. She's funny as well. Quick to a retort. Clever. Aza changes. Which is one of the best things about her. She is shy at first. Cautious. But as she starts to gain control over her powers, things start to come into perspective for her. She is powerful. Extremely so. Before she got to Magonia, it didn't seem like Aza was anything powerful. She wasn't able to breathe easily. She wasn't someone who had an easy life. But she went to Magonia. And things changed. Quickly. She gained strength and power and a sense of belonging. Before, everything was odd. She wasn't able to fit in. She was an oddly-shaped puzzle piece. Magonia gave her a home. A place to feel right in. And who doesn't want a place to call home? 
Jason is a quirky oddball, but he's awesome nonetheless. He knows a lot of pi. (And that's an amazing feat by itself.) He has these little facts shoved into his brain. By many, he would be a weirdo. (Not saying that he is or is not in my opinion.) Jason is cool, though. And devoted. I mean...you ran like crazy to find your stolen Aza. And that's something else. Determination? Maybe. Love? Perhaps. Is Jason utterly crazy? That's a definite yes. I don't even think you can argue about that. But is his oddball-ness endearing? Definitely. 
And now I'll spend a little bit talking about Dai. (How can I not?) He really is devoted. Loyal. I think that's the one thing I like about Dai. Other than that, he's snobbish. Pompous. Assholish. (Love that word. Even it it describes me. Ha.) But Dai's loyalty is admirable. Even when he's doing wrong, he's loyal. If only his moral compass swung another direction. If only he wasn't loyal to the wrong side. (A loyal guy like Dai would be great to have on your side. Too bad he is loyal to -shiver- Zal.) Dai is cocky. Annoying. But unwaveringly loyal. 

The plot is fascinating. There is Jason's search. I actually wanted more of that. How does he have all this access? I know he has money, and I know that money can get you places but still! How? Why do people let him in? Why do people allow this kid to listen to their chats and ask for help? Perhaps it's a challenge. Perhaps it's money. Perhaps they think he's crazy, but they're crazy too. Crazy people are attracted to other crazy people. And we get the pirates. And meet some freaky Breaths. (I'm trying to understand how this works. So Magonia is just really high up in the clouds? And they steal human drowners? Confused...) And Aza training. I think the scenes with Aza on the ship (aka the majority of the book) are interesting. She's exposed to this new world as we are. We learn about Magonia as she does. And I find that interesting. 
I admit that it isn't full of action. But it's still fascinating. (It's its own way.) There aren't as many fight scenes as I love. After all, Aza isn't a fighter. She couldn't have fought. But. Exploring this world and having other people fight is completely fine by me. Magonia is a captivating world. (I'm running out of adjectives...) 

The romance isn't bad. Jason and Aza are adorable. (To my surprise.) It doesn't seem like they would compliment each other. But they do. I don't see how they connected. Perhaps nerds, oddballs, and weirdos all have a sixth sense for finding other nerds, oddballs, and weirdos. 
But I love their chemistry. It's amazing, really. They kiss. And sparks fly. They truly care about each other. (Which you can't always say happens.)
But we have a (sigh) love triangle of sorts. Which annoys me. What annoys me the most is Aza attraction to her partner. (Who...is annoying by himself. Ehem.) Why? Come on, dude. Don't you have a rule about this? Why don't you try and fight back? Seriously. As you can tell, this annoys me. A lot. 

I have to say that the world is captivating. It's one of this story's strongest points. It's a magical world in the clouds. Who wouldn't want that? They have the squallwhales. The batsails. Animals used for different purposes. And the singing. Wow. It's a completely different idea. Something fascinating. Their terms for different things are interesting. Especially the drowners term. So is Magonia 'land' and the land below 'sea'? That would make sense but no sense since the oceans for the land below are much lower than that even. And their glowing arrows. (That made me smile. But shooting stars aren't that common. Right?) And the random crop circles are, at last, explained! Huzzah! 
All of this combined makes me wonder if there actually is a Magonia somewhere up in the clouds.

The ending is great. It's stunning. A true shocker. 
Aza gains independence and determination. (Something she was lacking for the majority of the book.) She has changed. And wants to fight back. She thinks she's going to do something amazing. And she does. But...plot twist. (And no spoilers! So read it and find out!) 
And she is reunited. At last. At long last. And cute fluffy stuffs ensues. 

This is a great story. An amazing world. Great characters. Electric romance. And great ending. 

Sunny with some clouds

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