Review : Magonia, Maria Dahvana Headley

Some days, you stumble upon a book that everyone is talking about. The cover is gorgeous, the synopsis kind of intriguing, and definitely different from anything you’ve ever read. For me, and maybe for you, too, Magonia was this book.

“Soon-to-be sixteen years-old Aza is drowning, because of her own lungs. She can’t breathe correctly, and hasn’t been able to since she was born. A mysterious lung disease that no one knows about, so obviously, there’s no cure for it, either. Mood swings, hallucinations, are sometimes part of her daily life…until one day, she sees a ship in the sky. Everyone thinks she’s crazy, except Jason, her best friend. But she really did see a ship in the sky. And, when she takes what she thinks is her last breath, she finds herself on that very ship. It’s not paradise, neither is it hell. It’s Magonia. A place where she can live and breathe like a normal person. A real place, where she’s really alive. But the stakes between Earth and Magonia are high, and Aza will find herself at the biggest conflict of her life. Saving the people she love, or embracing this new world?”  Welcome to a strange world, a world you won’t understand, a world that will challenge you every second. Well, at least that was the case for me. Right from the first pages, you’re gripped into a kind of cinematographic writing style. The author writes, and you’re seeing a scene unfold in front of your eyes. It took me some time to adapt, and I had a hard time getting into the story at the beginning. A few pages later, I was caught into the story, and met Aza.

“I’m dark matter. The universe inside of me is full of something, and science can’t even shine a light on it. I feel like I’m mostly made of mysteries.”

The main character of this story, Aza, isn’t the usual teenage girl. I’m not saying that only because of her strange, unknown illness. I’m saying that because she has a voice unlike any other narrator I’ve ever encountered. She’s snarky, she’s very complicated to understand, well, at least she was, for me. While some people loved her, or others hated her, I just didn’t feel very connected to the character, sadly. I really enjoyed the fact that she was different, not only because of her illness and all the strange things happening to her, but in the way she expresses herself, in the way she sees life, friends, in the way she feels things. I loved the fact that this story was written from two different perspectives, because, if I didn’t love nor hate Aza, I absolutely fell in love with Jason. He’s the main character’s best friend, and, even if we don’t get enough chapters with him as the narrator, I loved every single moment of his story. He’s passionnate, funny, and his endless quest for Aza got me rooting for him since the very first page. I felt strangely much closer to Jason than to Aza, and found that he was much more endearing to me. Moreover, his desperate quest for the love of his life gave me so many FEELS.

“If you look at the sky that way, it’s this massive shifting poem, or maybe a letter, first written by one author, and then, when the earth moves, annotated by another. So I stare and stare until, one day, I can read it.”

The high point of this story really is the world. Magonia is a damn treasure of imagination. I wouldn’t ever have imagined a world like this, and the author did it wonderfully. There are so many interesting mythological aspects about this, many quotes, books, works that are at the roots of Magonia’s world. Actually, there are lots of things that kind of makes you wonder if there’s a part of truth to this magical story. Birds, humans, ships in the sky, everything mixed-up. More than that, the author gives us a colorful picture of everything. We play with senses, colors, with the winds and the feelings… Magonia is a world filled with complications I sometimes had a hard time getting, at first, but it’s a beautiful and imaginative picture of a world I would love to see in all its colors.

I did cry, I won’t hide it. If I had a hard time getting into the story, and falling in love with the main character, the writing got me a little more into it. Some moments were filled with emotions, especially the end where I found some tears falling out without even intending to. I loved Jason and Aza’s powerful connexion, and their whole relationship. If the beginning wasn’t that impressive to me, Magonia really got me towards the end. If you’re asking me, it’s not worth all this hype, but this world really is new, fresh and interesting. So if you’re looking for something different, try out Magonia right away. Maybe you’ll fall in love with it, who knows.

Final rating:  3 Drops

(find out more about my new rating system here)

Did you read Magonia ? What did you think about it? If not, are you planning to read it? Feel free to share your thoughts in comments!

Maria Dahvana Headley, Magonia,  Published by Harper Collins, April 28th 2015.


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?

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13 thoughts on “Review : Magonia, Maria Dahvana Headley

  1. What! I’d seen the gorgeous cover of this but never read the synopsis.. definitely sounds different from anything I’ve read! The floating ship in the sky totally reminds me of Peter Pan though, which makes me even more curious!

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    1. It’s really so different from anything I’ve read, too, and I think that’s what I enjoyed the most! Aw you’re right, now that you’re pointing that out, it definitely reminds me of Peter Pan, too! I hope you’ll read this one, and enjoy it! 🙂
      Thank you so much for your comment! ❤

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  2. I remember reading Thuong’s review of this at I Read Therefore I Am a few months ago and decided I wouldn’t buy it since she thought some of the characters were on the lackluster side. But I still ended up purchasing the ebook version since it was one of the Kindle daily deals last month. XD I’m sorry that you didn’t feel that connected to Aza either and couldn’t get into the story in the beginning, but good thing there were some redeemable qualities! Awesome review, Marie!

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  3. Marie, this review was wonderful! I agree that this book doesn’t deserve all the hype but it was such a new and different story that I have to admit is quite beautiful. While I didn’t see the world the way you did – in fact I couldn’t get a grip on the world built by Headley – I am on the same page with you on Jason. I loved him so much more than Aza. I was so emotionally invested in Jason that I think it left nothing for Aza!

    Wonderful review! 😊

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