Magonia by Maria Dahvana Headley

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(3/5)

Plot: Aza Ray Boyle has spent her entire life dying. With a completely new disease that makes it difficult, if not impossible, for her to breath, she’s been slowly counting down the days until she finally dies. As her days start to dwindle, Aza Ray begins to see hallucinations of skips in the sky, and no one believes her. And the freakiest part? She collapses in school, wakes up in the hospital and they find a feather in her lung! Feather…in…her…lung. Days before her sixteenth birthday, there is a freak snowstorm and she dies in an ambulance, surrounded by her dad, her sister and her best friend, Jason. Except, she doesn’t actually die. Aza Ray wakes up on one of those sky ships she thought she’d been hallucinating…surrounded by people who look like birds and birds that look like people and every combination in between. She learns then why she couldn’t breath on Earth with it’s heavy oxygen…she’s a Magonian, someone who lives in the sky. Action, a little bit of romance, and a lot of betrayal follow Aza Ray as she tries to adjust to her new life and leave her human family behind.

Review: I really, really love the concept of this book. The actual plot is so interesting, so unique that it blew me away. I can’t even think of anything to compare it to. When I read the first two or three chapters, I fell in love with Aza Ray as a narrator. I actually didn’t hate reading a first person YA book! However, the writing style got a bit much after the first few chapters. There isn’t actually any action that happens until almost the middle of the book. That, paired with the super vague and every-other-sentence metaphor writing style, it was hard to get into unless you just sat down and read it all at once. And even then I tended to skim a lot of the imagery. I love imagery in writing, don’t get me wrong, but when there is this much, it all bleeds together and stops being influential to the reader’s imagination.

While I continued to enjoy Aza Ray as a character–I wish she had a little bit more agency, but she had a bit more than a lot of female YA protagonists–I found myself growing tired of her narration. I was also disappointed when Jason’s PoV was added, since he sounded exactly the same as Aza Ray. That’s what’s hard about multiple first-person PoVs…you have to work really hard to separate your characters. Sure Jason had hiss quirk with pi, but other than that, I couldn’t tell a single distinguishing thing that made him stand out from Ava’s chapters.

I was pleasantly surprised at some of the small twists in the book, but none were totally jaw-dropping shocks. The world that the author created was definitely full of life, if not a bit confusing at first glance. I am aware that there is a sequel, but I don’t think I’ll end up reading it solely for the metaphor-heavy writing. Metaphors are meant to be powerful and stand-alone, not squished together, ten per page. I would have given this four stars if I wasn’t so bothered by the writing, but I still would recommend this to anyone who would want to read something very airy and different with interested formats in the writing style.

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