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! 😉 ).
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?
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!
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-dovey 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 of 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. 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.
Magonia 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.
Links to the book: