Publication: April 28, 2015, by HarperCollins
Genre: Young Adult Fiction, Science Fiction, Romance
Neil Gaiman’s Stardust meets John Green’s The Fault in Our Stars in this fantasy about a girl caught between two worlds... two races…and two destinies.
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?
My Thoughts:Above the clouds, in a land far away with flying ships and people with blue skin (NO, NOT LIKE AVATAR) is the land of Magonia. Nope, you've obviously never heard about it before since it's one of the most rare bookish and fictional settings that I've ever read about, as well as what you've read before. NOTHING CAN BEAT THIS SETTING, JUST SAYING. Maria Dahvana Headley has thrown readers into this "spaceship" of romance, loss and illness, as well as finding yourself in the world that you may not truly belong in.
From that first paragraph wrapped up in complexity, you're likely thinking that I'm some weirdo who is obsessed with this book. To tell you the truth, I am not obsessed with this story and its plot at all, though I am quite fascinated with how the ideas formed together and created an enjoyable read. Tell the difference? *nods* Hah, sorry for my tough macho image, but I'm trying to impress the aliens of Magonia. Know UFOs that take cows into their ship? Yeah, the UFOs are actually the Magonians, trying to find food (or in this case, milk). WHOA. PROBLEM SOLVED. WHY HADN'T THE SCIENTISTS FIGURED THIS OUT YET?
The thing is, if you really look at this story in between the lines and especially at our female protagonist, Aza, you'll find that there really wasn't any dilemma that she was trying to solve. She's sick, yeah, but once she heads to her "afterlife," or in this case, Magonia where she is picked up by the invisible spaceships that soar all over the world, she's living in peace, more peace than she ever would've had if she stayed on Earth. Do I want my own Magonia? Not really, but it was an interesting fictional setting, much unlike anything I've read. IT'S NOT LIKE THESE BROKEN STARS OR ACROSS THE UNIVERSE, don't expect that at all!
"Life and death aren't as different from each other as I thought they were. This isn't like walking into a new country. This is walking into a new room in the same house. This is sharing a hallway and the same row of framed family pictures, but there's a glass wall between. I'm right here. And not."
To wonderfully summarize this bold novel, it's pretty simple... but deep at the same time. Aza Ray is the carrier of a disease that affects her lungs which no one has ever had before. They call it Azaray (Get it? Her name!) and her life is basically supposed to end once she turns sixteen. One day, she hears something call her name in the air, and it's an invisible ship made up of the world, Magonia. Aza's best friend Jason, makes a conspiracy theory on what may be causing this, and all goes wrong once a tragedy occurs.
As I mentioned above, I adored the setting and concept that Headley was trying to get across. It's definitely one of the most diverse reads (but diverse, I mean different and fresh) that I've read in 2015 and for a while, as the author took the idea of space into a whole other level. Now that's something that leads to why I feel that this is hyped about. And before I get to anything else, ISN'T THE COVER SO GORGEOUS?! I can't get enough of it... I wanted a copy before I even knew what the story was about, haha.
Another thing that's crazy is that people compare this to John Green's TFIOS. WHAT. THE. HELL? I'm sorry, but there is romance and a disease involved, but I cannot compare this to it at all, or even to the same way I felt about it, opinion wise. CRITICS MUST STOP WITH THESE WEIRD COMPARISONS... just saying. That's one point I've been trying to get across since after I snarked a few giggles while reading here and there. But we'll get to the feelings a little later.
"I don't think of the sky as any kind of heaven item. I think of it as a bunch of gases and faraway echoes of things that used to be on fire."
Also being pretty philosophical at times, I wanted to get to Headley's writing because that's another great thing that stayed with me after reading. She makes the story sound real, when if someone else told me it in a conversation, I would've laughed and thought that it was stupid. She took a difficult subject into her writing, made everything seem possible, and that readers are in some kind of spaceship above Earth, watching all of the book's events occurring from that spot. What else could we possibly have wanted in the plot? Better formatting. I'm not talking about the beginning, middle and end sort of eighth-grade writing style, where everything is bread and butter, but less boredom throughout some points and more descriptions. When setting your novel in a place like this (mixing between dual perspectives as well), I believe that it's key to be concise and descriptive. This is creative writing, after all.
But the beginning and end was fun of the details that made me fall in love with the story. I giggled, almost shed a tear watching Jason cope and deal with all of the garbage that he had to deal with, and felt all of the feels. I bet that any lover of any genre will end up enjoying this somehow.
Yeah, I actually ended up dreaming about this one last night! I remember something about a spaceship and me, hah. IT'S A MESSAGE THAT IT'LL ALWAYS BE THERE, WAITING FOR ME AND WATCHING ME. Okay, that may sound a little creepy but books are my friends. Woot. You all are my friends!
Just to go over the characters quickly to give you a feel of what they're like: we have dual perspectives. I feel that this made the story 10x better, since we got a viewpoint on both sides of the story, when they weren't even in the same situation. Aza was a little annoying and not my kind of person, but she was bearable. I'm not going to say that she ruined the book—she didn't, but perhaps I would've preferred a little more intelligence in her decision-making. You'll probably see otherwise, or agree with me, but that's all up to you. And then we had gorgeous, sensitive Jason, who was like the puppy begging for food under your dinner table. He loved Aza, it was all real, and I was only hoping for the feeling would be mutual between them both.
Was it mutual? I mean, kinda, but I don't want to give many spoilers since you'll probably kill me afterwards (or take all of my books away), but I wish that THERE WERE MORE SIGNS OF LOVE. Aza thinking about him certainly wasn't enough for what they had, know what I'm saying?
So if you're one of those people (LIKE ME) who always are hesitant to pick a novel up because everyone's hyped up about it, I'd recommend really knowing if it's for you. Magonia sure was, although it wasn't perfect, amazing or a favourite read. There were some issues with Aza and the plot, though that can all be diminished if we all play happy and look at just the feels and writing. And of course, the cover with the feather. It's gorgeous, no? Put your spacesuits on, climb the invisible ladder that hangs from the sky, grab Magonia and enjoy! (In other words, go for it!)