Book Review: “Magonia” by Maria Dahvana Headley

Book Review: “Magonia” by Maria Dahvana Headley

Caitlin Husted, Editor in Chief

There are around 600,000 to 1 million books published each year, and that’s only in America. Even with all those possibilities, it still seems like they all begin to run together. It’s hard to find a book that’s completely different than something that has already been released.

When I picked up “Magonia” in Target this summer, I was instantly intrigued by the description on the back cover. Aza Ray is the 15-year-old main character who suffered from a mysterious lung disease since she was a baby. Since they are unaware of how to cure her disease, all they can do is give her different drugs and medications they hope will keep her alive.

With all the drugs in her system, her family and best friend Jason are not surprised when she begins to catch glimpses of ships sailing around in the sky.

Aza does her best to ignore what she’s seeing and just focuses on her fast approaching birthday. Unfortunately, before she has the chance to enjoy all that life offers to 16-year-olds, Aza is lost to our world, but found by another: Magonia.

Magonia is a town of trading ships found in the clouds, invisible to the typical humans’ eyes. It’s here for the first time in Aza’s life, she can breathe with no difficulty. Even more impressive, she has immense power; power that she can use to change the world.

She begins to navigate her new life, learning her place on the ship and discovering what her voice is able to do. But as a war approaches, Aza must decide where her loyalties lie: to earth with the family who raised her, or to Magonia.

Now to be honest, I thought this book would at least be entertaining. I like different stories, so I figured I’d give it a shot. However, I was a little disappointed.

The book was definitely written for a younger audience. I felt the problems Aza faced not relatable in the least and always a little childish. There were also some parts of the storyline that threw me for a loop, and I was unable to adjust later on.

For starters, the people of Magonia have bird type things in their chest. Not only that, but they sing with them and can cause magical things to happen. For Aza, her bird helps her do mundane tasks like cleaning the ship deck, but can also be used to control the weather.

The book left off in a way that could lead to a sequel, and to be honest, I don’t think I would buy it. I struggled to get through the first book and am not intrigued to find out what happens in the second.

However, I always hate to just bash on a book because I personally didn’t like it. A lot of work and time went into this novel, and I’m sure other people like the book, probably those of a bit younger crowd.

A user on goodreads had this to say on the novel, “Reading this book was like floating on a magical, puffy, pink cloud. While eating fairy dust and watching shooting stars. That’s how alluring this book was. The only other time I’ve felt this way was while watching the “Stardust” movie!”

So I guess if you like that magical eating fairy dust and watching shooting stars, this book wouldn’t be so bad. The author did have a very interesting and sarcastic tone, which fit well with Aza’s character. She also came up with an idea for a story that I had never heard of.

However, another user on goodreads said, “I really enjoyed the first 100 pages or so, but as soon as ‘the thing’ happens, it all sort of fell apart for me. Those first 100 pages were well paced, witty, fun – but then the story basically changes completely. It dragged, I had a hard time connecting with the new world and new characters, and I’m not sure it all came together for me by the end.”

So it really just depends on what your type of book is. For me, I just wasn’t feeling “Magonia.” So next time at Target, I’ll probably be a little bit pickier on what I pick up and put in my cart.