Last Week on Inked Brownies

Review: Magonia by Maria Dahvana Headley

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Kindle Edition, 320 pages
Published April 28th, 2015 by HarperCollins

Would you look at that cover…it’s one of the main reasons why I bought this book about two years ago (don’t judge me, y’all know what it’s like!). I finally read it now because I was approved for an ARC of the sequel, and…mixed thoughts here (sorry Lilly! πŸ˜‰ ).

Blurb (17).jpg

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 speakβ€”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 worldβ€”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 powerβ€”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 humanityβ€”including the boy who loves her. Where do her loyalties lie?

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The first 20% were seriously amazeballs. I thought I’d finally be able to rate something with the fullest 5 brownies with whip cream and sprinkles again.
The story was quirky and incredibly imaginative.
Here’s this girl, Aza, who has basically been terminally ill ever since she was born. She has a delightful sense of sarcasm and a no-nonsense approach to the world in general. The fact that she looks weird and sickly makes the whole thing even better (from a reader’s perspective, that is).

Clarification: by “too skinny”, I don’t mean Sexy Goth Girl in Need of Flowery Dress and Lipstick to Become Girl Who Was Aways Secretly Pretty but We Never Saw It Till Now. I mean: dead girl walking.

I absolutely loved the writing style here. Interior monologues which are done correctly can be such a treat!

We soon meet Jason, who is as equally delightful as Aza is. Jason has a serious case of anxiety and OCD which is being kept under control by medication and his two moms. His meltdowns are always accompanied by an obsession with reciting the first part of the 100.000 digits of Pi. Here are the first 1000 for your reading pleasure. You can thank me later for it in the comment section!

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So yes, as I’m sure the Sherlocks amongst you have already figured this out: Jason’s quite the genius. He develops his own illegal apps to keep track of things which could get him arrested.

The friendship between him and Aza has been a very long one, ever since Jason ended up stepping in on Aza’s fifth birthday party uninvited, wearing an alligator costume and roller skates.

When it became clear that they also have secret lovey-doveyΒ feelings for each other, I could do nothing but applaud this. Which says something because romance has become something of a dead skunk to me lately, even though I’m happily married!

At around 25% of the book, I started to deduct tiny little bites of brownies (brownies are small; you have to take tiny bites in order to enjoy them longer. Unless you have a massive stack of them and a fast metabolism, that is) from my rating. The main issue I was experiencing was that the story turned so extremely surreal, that I couldn’t help but think that Aza is going to wake up from a coma or something at the end of the last book. There’s nothing wrong with surreal, but it becomes tricky if the details don’t add up. I had a hard time visualising the world ofΒ Magonia as a whole. Maybe it had something to do with studying environmental sciences. I know about Earth’s layers in the atmosphere and how they work and interconnect. So when rain is being explained by a giant whale made out of clouds, I have a hard time grasping that concept. Yes, I also like to read about talking animals and whatnot; it’s called fiction, but the thing with fiction is that you have to believe in it at some point to be able to get swept away by it.

Then, there were the other characters. As much attention was put into Aza and Jason, the side characters were an annoying bunch of stereotypes, mostly. I think the only other character I liked was a giant bat that was used as a sail for the flying ship. And he wasn’t even considered as a person, really.

When I finished the book, I thought I was still going to give it 3.5 brownies. Having pondered over it some more, though, I have come to the conclusion that 3.5 is too much.Β Around the second half of the book, things became way too predictable. And the instalove Aza had with Dai was just too shallow for words. The ending was chaos, a whirlwind if you like, but I could smell most of it coming from a mile away. Which was such a disappointment because the premise was amazing.

TL;DR

MagoniaΒ is a highly imaginative book, with high praise for the author’s creativity. Skysharks, flying ships, bird-people; it’s all so colourfully described that you can’t help but get a glowing feeling about it in your chest. The main characters are wonderfully quirky, though all-knowing Aza became a bit too naive during the end, which annoyed the shit out of me. The predictability and hard time I had with grasping the world building’s concept made me end up with giving it 3 brownies. I liked it, but I certainly don’t recommend this to everyone.

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Links to the book:

Amazon US
Amazon UK
The Book Depository
Bol.com
Goodreads

About Anne (231 Articles)
Dutch book reviewer who reviews in English. Grammar nazis beware!! I like brownies. And chamomile tea.

89 Comments on Review: Magonia by Maria Dahvana Headley

  1. Great review! I’ve debated many times on picking up this book but something has always stopped me from actually getting it. However, your review makes it sound far more interesting than I originally thought so I might give it a go!

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thank you! πŸ™‚ The sequel to it just came out last week, so this was the last push for me to finally pick it up. The world building is very original, but definitely not for everyone, so I’m curious to see your thoughts on it should you decide to pick it up at some point πŸ˜‰

      Liked by 1 person

  2. I just bought the ebook of this a few weeks ago, it was on sale for 1.99.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Fantastic review! I will read this book someday. I really do want to, I just get distracted with other books. It’s been on my TBR for years, too.

    Liked by 1 person

  4. Great review for a book that isn’t for me! πŸ™‚

    Ha, that Pi image, yay nerds or sorry, geniuses! πŸ™‚

    Liked by 1 person

  5. Fantastic review Anne! I’ve gone back and forth so many time over whether I wanted to try this. I know my library has it so perhaps someday when I have time, (ha!) I’ll borrow it.πŸ™‹πŸ»

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thank you! πŸ™‚ You should try it when you feel like you have some room to breath reading wise ;). You might end up loving it or be severely disappointed! It seems it goes either way for most reviewers.

      Liked by 1 person

  6. Wow, surreal is the word here… I remember one of your status updates on Goodreads where you said- sharks in the sky!!! That alone made me go- huh? πŸ˜€

    Great review, Anne… it sounds like to you took a confusing plot and managed to explain it very clearly which is always a task and a half! Pity the book fell flat towards the end though… It kind of sounds like something I would enjoy, so I may keep an eye out for it in the library… if it is to be, it shall be!
    Oooh, and I really like the sound of that giant bat… which makes me think of Ozzy Osbourne…

    Liked by 2 people

    • πŸ˜€ Yeah, that was so weird, I thought one could only come up with such things by using drugs XD. Thank you! πŸ™‚ Wise words nods. Hahaha, this bat was luckier. Although I’m still not sure whether it was actually a live bat or not with Ozzy!

      Liked by 2 people

  7. I definitely memorized pi up to way too many digits in high school. For fun. Don’t ask me why.
    Awesome review though! I hate when books start great and end poorly. It’s way better when they start mediocre and finish on a high!

    Liked by 1 person

  8. Too late. I have already bought the first book long ago just for the sake of cover (oops!)
    Great review. The synopsis is the second reason why I bought it.

    Liked by 1 person

  9. rashthedoctor // 12/10/2016 at 18:11 // Reply

    Well i read the whole Pi values , looking for a repetition despite knowing there isn’t one .

    Nice review , I do understand where you are coming from with the inaccuracies that one can detect thanks to their real life jobs. I mean my last 3 reviews had me pointing out inaccuracies about diseases . Sure authors do plenty of tough work to write a good book but a little research on things that they are writing can make it go from good to exceptional

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thinking about it too long makes my head spin! Thank you πŸ™‚ Uuugh, inaccuracies about diseases are way worse. Research goes a long way! Luckily, the stuff in this book is just made up obviously. Knowing that doesn’t mean I can’t get annoyed over it ;).

      Liked by 1 person

      • rashthedoctor // 12/10/2016 at 20:17 // Reply

        well my last few reviews were also fiction , but one of them did annoy me regardless of it’s fictitious setting . If you remember it was the one where i talked about the inaccuracies with Alzeimer

        Liked by 1 person

  10. Aww boo!!! I heard mixed to bad reviews for this one. Don’t you hate when a book starts off fantastic and then goes down from there? ugh! Then characters sound like they shifted here a bit. boo!!!

    Liked by 1 person

  11. Lovely review, Sausage Queen! πŸ™‚ So is the rain whale tears? lol I can see why you deducted bites of brownies. πŸ˜‚

    Liked by 1 person

  12. That’s too bad that the book started out amazing but couldn’t keep up until the end. I like your humor in taking little nibbles off the brownies.. Haha funny.. Great review!

    Liked by 1 person

  13. This book sounds pretty damn good, but I start to get nervous when you begin to nibble at thous brownies girl.. It is too bad it did not finish as strong as it started for you, but my interest is piqued none the less. But then again, brownies with the works are better. And it looks like we are both proof that happy marriages can exist without the “romance” haha. Great review as always. I love reading your writing πŸ™‚

    Liked by 1 person

  14. Oh wow, that cover is beautiful! I love it, and your review is fantastic!! πŸ™‚

    Liked by 1 person

  15. I suppose getting a decent quote from Gaiman is something. But I do know it’s incredibly difficult to build a credible fictional world.

    Liked by 1 person

    • I believe they wrote something together, though ;). Yes! I never actually realised how important the credibility is. I can still believe in vampires and zombies because there’s still an element of mystery there, but this one…bummer.

      Liked by 1 person

  16. As usual, a perfect review! I was on the fence about this book because the premise sounds good but it has to be well-executed to work for me and from your impressions, I get the feeling I might only enjoy the beginning! Happy marriages don’t always have to rhyme with romance, fortunately!! I nibble at brownies forever, it’s so sad when all that is left is a teeny tiny crumble 😦

    Liked by 1 person

    • Perfect?! Oh Donna…blushes thank you! ❀ Yes, the beginning is nice and snarky, but the rest is a bit meh. Yes! And I’m sincerely hoping my husband agrees with that as well :’). True about the crumble, but it also deserves some love xD

      Like

  17. I saw this around on instagram a lot during the summer and was SO in love with the cover. However most reviews I’ve seen were rather disappointed, so yours just confirms that trend and also gives me enough reasons to stay away. Predictability doesn’t even disturb me as much as a story that doesn’t add up in itself so I can’t believe in it. Or characters that don’t have any depth at all and are just types – even if they are ‘just’ side characters – such a pet peeve for me.

    Liked by 1 person

  18. Ouch 😦 I hate when you love it at first and then it goes downhilll….

    “Here are the first 1000 for your reading pleasure.” THANK YOU SO MUCH xDDD

    Liked by 1 person

    • Yes, such a bummer. Hahaha, you’re the first one to actually thank me!! XD I’m sure the others were just too much in awe with the digits and forgot to do so πŸ˜‰

      Like

  19. Awesome review Anne!!! Even though it solidified what was already rumored to be true…it was a dud πŸ˜‚πŸ˜‚πŸ˜‚ sounds like it had potential to be a winner too & that cover is an eye catcher. Whelp there goes that…the whale sounds a bit odd LOL smh. I started your review reading about the guy who has OCD with the two moms & was all like YESSSS! Only to deflate πŸ˜‚πŸ˜‚πŸ˜‚either way this is a great review πŸ™ŒπŸΌπŸ™ŒπŸΌπŸ™ŒπŸΌ

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thank you! :3 Yes, such a SHAME! Hahaha, there was definitely a lot of deflating going on around here while reading this book, and it wasn’t just because of the disappointment O_o. Why do these books have such great covers to lure you in?! ❀

      Liked by 1 person

  20. Great review! I have to say, that book was a cover-pick for me as well, but I ended up feeling the same way as you did. I was kind of amazed by the originality of it all, but had a hard time grasping the world they were in, and it felt kind of, too surreal, at times, unfortunately. Are you going to read the second book ?

    Liked by 1 person

    • Yes, that’s exactly what my issue was as well. Surreal to the max! I will read the sequel, though, because I got approved for an ARC for it a while ago (didn’t even know it was because I was mesmerized by that cover again as well πŸ˜‰ ). I’m quite behind on my review schedule, though :/. How about you? Are you going to give the second book a chance?

      Liked by 1 person

  21. I kind of want to read it now. Next time I see it on sale I am going to buy it. Maybe I should wait until you read and review the sequel though because if the second book is a flop, it won’t be worth it. Is this a duology, or a trilogy? Thanks for sharting your review. πŸ˜€

    Liked by 1 person

    • Seeing we had the same opinion on some previous books, I’m quite curious to see what you make of this one as well! I’m one chapter into the sequel now and it’s pretty much the same as the first one so far. (not saying that’s a good or bad thing yet πŸ˜‰ ). I believe it’s a duology.
      I love to shart things πŸ˜‰

      Liked by 1 person

  22. Gawd, I so love your blog background. I want a skirt or a scarf with this pattern. ☺

    Liked by 1 person

    • HAhaha, that’s so good to hear! πŸ˜€ I’ve been fiddling around with it for ages. My husband said it looked like a colour disco, but I ignored him and went for it anyways ;).

      Like

  23. So sorry you didn’t enjoy this one! I’ve heard quite mixed reviews about this one, I think I’ll remove it from my tbr. It’s a shame really that the story turns out to be too surreal and predictable, since the premise sounds really fantastic.

    Liked by 1 person

    • You never know for sure until you try it yourself, of course ;). I’ve heard some people say that this has become one of their all-time favourites! I’m hoping the sequel is better, though…

      Like

  24. I really respect your candidness. I love the end of your post: “I liked it, but I certainly wouldn’t recommend it to anyone.”
    Life is too short to read adequate books. For sure.

    Liked by 1 person

  25. katelynnhillier // 18/10/2016 at 22:42 // Reply

    I know you gave it a three stars but I still feel disappointed – it seemed like this should have been so much better! It’s like listening to Kassandra pick it apart (which was hilarious) – great ideas but lacking execution….?
    Great review and I’m glad you still enjoyed it!
    Also, did I see you picked up the sequel?! HOW IS IT?!

    Liked by 1 person

    • I actually deducted another half a brownie on Goodreads by now because the disappointment is real! Kassandra knows her shit obviously ;). I enjoyed parts of it, but when thinking back to the book as a whole now, I can’t help but pulling up my nose. Ah yes, the sequel gives a dead cow eyed stare..

      Liked by 1 person

  26. Candace Williams, author // 19/10/2016 at 17:57 // Reply

    The cover + the premise = shut up and take my money! With the review? Take my money, anyway! I’ll know what I’m getting into (mostly world-building issues) but I still want to experience this story. Thanks for a great review! Heading to Amazon …

    Liked by 1 person

  27. Ooh, intriguing review! I bought this book about the same time you did (see, I don’t judge!) and still have yet to read it. It was on sale for $1.99, and with that cover I couldn’t say no. Now I’m totes wanting to read it! (And I loved that you said the beginning was amazeballs! Makes me want to read it just because of the phrasing)…I’ll have to read it anyway, and I’ll probably agree with you.
    Can I eat your brownies? (Wait…that sounds pretty nasty…nm, no, I don’t want any brownies! Just kidding! Ha!)

    Like

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