The One My Spell Check Keeps Changing to Magnolia: 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?

Source: GoodReads

I had mixed feelings about reading this one, but when Kara from Great Imaginations read it and loved it, I thought I needed to give it a try.  Her tastes usually align to be pretty similar to me, and I was already intrigued….

So yeah.

I read it.



This one really surprised me.  It wasn’t something that I normally would’ve read, but oddly it worked for me.  The sick lit part was handled quite well.  And I don’t get sick lit.  It usually seems really gimmicky to me.  But it wasn’t that gimmicky here.

Yes, the disease was Aza’s life and in a way it’s about her dying, but it wasn’t a stereotypical.  OMG she’s dying book.  Well, for the most part.  I mean, Aza kept living even though technically she was dying.  I feel like a lot of times with sick lit books the book becomes overwhelmed with the disease.  Not so much here.  The Sick Lit part really focused on relationship and they weren’t cringe worthy like Nicholas Sparks books or John Green books*

Once the fantasy comes to play (yes, I said fantasy because this book is half sick lit half fantasy) things get insane.

And even as I’m writing this, I’m not sure how I feel about it.

The world building is completely unique AND bizarre.  I would almost say there’s a magical realism vibe about it (especially with those bird scenes at the end of part one), BUT it’s not magical realism.  It’s more or less if Ancient Aliens meet Thunder Cats but instead of  being cat anamorphic people the Thunder Cats were bird people.  Oh, and add some pirates and cloud whales while you’re at it.

Yeah, that insane.

And hard to comprehend, but it sort of works.

Sort of.

It’s like a really good first attempt at an insanely hard dessert to make and there’s just one little thing or two that are off with said dessert.

And I just don’t know if I’m going to give the book praise for trying or scorn for messing up.

I’m being generous and giving praise though, because what Headley was trying to do was extremely difficult to do.

While parts of the world building were half baked, the book was grounded in it’s dual narration.  By having a world not collected to the crazy bird alien world, the book still was grounded in reality.

I also really liked how different the two narrators were.  Jason truly has his own voice as well as Azra.

I do think Magonia was good with faults.  If you want a genre bending story, or a story that’s something original give it a try.

Overall Rating: A solid B+..


*This is taken from word of mouth.  I refuse to read Green’s books based on the fact he has a foot eating habit.  You’d think he’d learn by now that putting your foot in your mouth makes for some nasty digestion but whatevs.


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