Magonia by Maria Dahvana Headley (Magonia #1) (DNF)

This is an unfinished book review as I did not complete the book in question.  Sometimes a story doesn’t hold my interest enough or there’s a a fatal flaw in the writing that makes it impossible for me to read; however, I feel that I should still put up my impressions of the story and explain why I was unable to make it through.  These reviews will vary in length depending on how much of the novel I was able to complete.

Title: Magonia
Series Title: Magonia
Author: Maria Dahvana Headley
Date Added: January 31, 2016
Date Started: October 1, 2016
Date Completed: November 16, 2016
Percentage Read: 50%
Genre: YA, Fantasy

Pages: 309
Publication Date: April 28, 2015
Medium: Hardback

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 book struck me as combination of John Green’s The Fault in Our Stars (which if you’re new to my blog, I absolutely adore) and Ubisoft’s Child of Light (which I also absolutely adore).  The latter due to the main character Aza’s “sickness catching up to her” and “being lost to this world,” but found by another.  That’s exactly what happens to Aurora in Lemuria.  The former mentioned is in the text itself.  Aza’s mien reminds me of Hazel’s sardonic whimsy in the face of tragedy.  Since these are two of my favorite stories, I was pretty well invested in this book.  Aza is a bit more over the top in her presumptuousness than Hazel, and it seemed more like the author was making her ostentatious for its sake alone.  Some would say the same about Fault, but I felt there was enough substance in the subtext to reign it in.

I still held out interest until the story shifted to Aza in Magonia.  Absolutely none of the characters there are likeable.  This could be because they’re not fleshed out or it could be because the author is trying to keep this air of mystery around their world.  No one will tell Aza anything, so subsequently we as readers know even less.  They are hollow as the bones of a bird, and there’s really no intrigue about them.  If one is going to do the “stranger in a strange land”” motif, the stranger needs to be informed about the land in which they find themselves, and we, as the readers, are along for the ride.  Without this information, we’re all just muddling along.

From the blurb it appears as though the author is attempting to set up a “should I stay or should I go” paradigm for Aza where she needs to decide if she’ll stay in her original, but newly found world or return to the “alien” world she’s always known.  Essentially, she’ll need to choose sides.  If this is the case, there’s much lacking, because at the point I stopped, I just wanted her to go home to her parents and potential love interest Jason, the latter who was far more interesting than anyone in the sky.  Because none of these characters are endearing, I don’t care about their struggles or the war for their world the blurb speaks of.  Why should I want Aza to stay amongst and fight for a people who tell her nothing, but expect her to know everything?  It was as annoying as it was unfair.  Now it’s possible that by the end, the reasons for their reluctance to inform might have become clear, but that doesn’t answer the issue of likability.  I found the same issue in a greater scale with The Maze Runner where none of the characters had much of a personality to cling to.  In Magonia, this is less of a case.  The (sky) characters have some semblance of personality; they’re just not likable.

I declared DNF at exactly halfway through.  I didn’t hate it; it just didn’t hold my interest very well, and I have too many books on my list to read.

Let me know what you thought of it if you read it!  I’m curious how others took the novel.  Feel free to spoil it for me in the comments, just mark spoiler for everyone else.

2.5 stars.



14 thoughts on “Magonia by Maria Dahvana Headley (Magonia #1) (DNF)

  1. Sounds like something I wouldn’t like either. Interesting characters are the most important part of stories to me. It’s a shame because it seems like the plot has so much potential.

    Liked by 1 person

    • The two most interesting characters were Jason and Aza, but they were ripped apart right as things were going to get interesting between them, and Aza was surrounded by mediocre characters. Then the book focused on that part and I just wanted her to get away. It was supposed to be a “Should I stay and help these people or go back to the life I know” dilemma, but I just wanted her to get back to the life she knew. It had potential, but didn’t live up to it sadly.

      Liked by 1 person

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  4. I actually really liked this book. I agree that the magonian characters weren’t all that like able and didn’t tell her anything, but if someone came from outer space, who had been on earth as a child, and who had high expectations… Would wou really sit down with that someone and prattle on for weeks trying (and failing) to teach them everything about earth? Or would you expect someone else to? But no ones gonna tell her anything because Zal wants her as a weapon, Dai doesn’t care, Wedda doesn’t want a nestling and has stuff to do, and Jik would expect Wedda to.
    I am SO, SO INCREDIBLY SORRY that this comment just turned into me arguing your point.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Informed, dissenting opinions are always welcome! Sorry it took me so long to respond to this. I try to go through my comments on a regular basis, but if I leave them for too long, they’re inaccessible. I remembered that there was a comment on my Magonia review randomly and saw it was in the pending, so made sure I approved it.

      I guess I just didn’t like any of the Magonian characters enough to keep me reading. I’m also SUPER picky about my YA. It’s actually not my preferred genre though ironically, my favorite standalone novel is The Fault in Our Stars, but that’s…stellar writing.


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