Mini Review: Magonia by Maria Dahvana Headley

Title: Magonia
Author: Maria Dahvana Headley
SeriesMagonia #1
Publisher: Harper, an imprint of HarperCollins
Publication Date: April 28, 2015
Pages: 309
Format/Source: Hardback/Won  
Age Group/Genre: Young Adult/Fantasy

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? (Cover and synopsis from Goodreads.)

Oh, Magonia. You seemed like you’d be my new favorite contemporary fantasy. But when I got to the part where a couple characters sang into each other’s mouths, I just couldn’t anymore.

I didn’t DNF, but I thought about it. Believe me, I really thought about it. But it was also kind of one of those books that still pulls you in enough where you want to see what happens, even though you really just can’t handle it anymore. So I finished, and ended up with 14 pages of (mostly ranting) notes. So I think I’m just going to have to share some of my notes with you guys, making this a mini review. Beware, there are some spoilers here, so read on at your own risk:

  • I liked the voice and the humor at the beginning, but then the writing got really choppy and strange.
  • I like the fact that Jason has two lesbian mothers, and they really turn out to be some of the best characters in this book.
  • There are a lot of random sentences that don’t make sense. And this is the final copy, not an ARC.
  • The bird flies into her mouth? WTF?
  • There is one intense scene, about 1/4 of the way through, which I thought was well written.
  • There are bird people? Like half-bird people??? This reminds me of the sparrow from Thumbelina on Faerie Tale Theatre.

  • I like the squallwhales.
  • Now there’s a door in her chest that the bird comes in and out of, like a damn cuckoo clock??? And it scratches inside her and she just ignores it???
  • A lot of what I call “vocab” words: words that are made up for this story. And unfortunately, some of them don’t seem to be defined enough so I’m not sure what some of them really mean.
  • I like Jason better than Aza. 
  • There’s a love triangle now? Between Aza, Jason, and a bird-dude???
  • Now they’re singing into each other’s mouths??? What is this???
  • I do like some of the images I get. I can see parts of this book as a movie.
  • There’s a nice sad part at the end.
My rating for Magonia by Maria Dahvana Headley:
2 stars. I had plenty of issues with the story but it kept pulling me back in, so it had that going for it. But the issues really outweighed the things I enjoyed, so I won’t be reading the rest of this series. But if this book sounds interesting to you, be sure to check out the reviews I’ve listed below; they all really enjoyed Magonia!

Find it: GoodreadsAmazonHarperCollins

Other reviews: Bookish BroadsWriter of WrongsSpeculating on SpecFic

Disclaimer: I won this book through a giveaway. I was not compensated in any way for this review.


  1. Tonya Henderson

    July 30, 2015 at 4:47 pm

    wow. They sing in each other mouth?? what.. for what? I was so excited for this one but…. wow.,

  2. Chrystal

    July 31, 2015 at 12:29 am

    Ugh… I'm going to pass on this one. The cover is beautiful and that alone made me want to pick this up, but after seeing your notes…. not so much. :( Thanks for sharing your thoughts.

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