Review: Magonia by Maria Dahvana Headley


Genre: Young-Adult, Urban Fantasy
Pages: 309
Series: Magonia #1 (Duology)
Release Date: April 28, 2015

3.5 Stars


Magonia has a strange setting. It follows a girl who seems to be drowning in air because it has more oxygen and pollutants than she can handle. She’s never had much of a life expectancy. And then the worst comes true. Except, not really. While her family and her best friend, Jason, think she’s dead, she’s actually been taken to Magonia, a land in the sky. She travelling on a ship, she can finally breath, and she finds out she’s more powerful than she ever imagined.

And when I said strange, I meant many things. For one, the fact that the protagonist dies within the first quarter of the novel (I totally cried), then there’s the world-in-the-sky thing and the flying-ship thing. Finally, there are bird people. It’s all quite fascinating.

I loved being introduced to the world of Magonia and how it’s based on speculation and conspiracy theories of historical events, like how people put their own twist on Jack the Ripper (I’m reading a Jack the Ripper book night now). I love when authors do that. It makes it seem as if the world they’ve created really exists. Or could exist. So much fun to read.

The characters in the novel were great. I love Aza and her quirky and sarcastic personality, and I loved Jason with his obsessive nature, his determination, and his loyalty toward his best friend.

The romance between Aza and Jason was super cute. Right off the bat we’re shown how much they love and care about each other. They have a very strong bond and I was rooting for them the entire time. Even though the author decide to test my patience by introducing another guy and creating a love-triangle-ish situation, because YA authors just can’t help themselves.

I actually had a few problems with the author. There was, of course, the (mandatory) love-triangle. But there were things happening that made me not like Aza as much. You see, the author needed the plot to move a certain way. For that to happen, Aza needed to act a certain way and let certain things happen. Which required Aza to let herself be very easily manipulated, and for a very long time. It was beyond irritating to see a smart character like Aza be fooled like that. Why couldn’t the author have found a different way for the plot to move along?

The other problem I had, the singing. In this book, Magonians have power in their voice. It’s like Harry Potter but instead of waving their wands, they sing. It was a wonderful idea to give power to singing. But it was hard to take it seriously.

We didn’t know what or how they were singing. We weren’t really give any cues as to what the musical notes were like. We they birdy or opera? For all we know, they could’ve been beat-boxing (okay, that was a joke). And Aza learnt so quickly. She actually just knew how to do it. It was like being hit over the head with both the Special Snowflake trait, and the Chosen One trait, at the same time. Quite annoying.

Overall though, I liked the book. But when you think about it, it relies pretty heavily on the novelty of how intriguing the world is. Something that’s proven by the fact that the second book  hardly has any reviews with over three stars. It basically uses the same screw-with-your-characters-to-drive-the-plot technique this one uses. But since the world is no longer new, it’s harder to forgive. I’m not reading the second book for that reason. I might at some point, but it’s highly unlikely.

This book, I do recommend. It’s interesting, has a good story, is well-written, and has great characters (not just talking Aza and Jason), even if the second book does ruin a lot of them.


2 thoughts on “Review: Magonia by Maria Dahvana Headley

  1. I’ve had this book on my TBR shelf for over a year, I really liked the premise and the cover is stunning. Your review has given me a nudge to pull it down from the shelf for reconsideration….

    Great post! 🙂


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