MAGONIA by Maria Dahvana Headley


From the "Magonia" series, volume 1
Age Range: 13 - 15
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A girl with a rare fatal disease discovers a magical secret about herself.

Aza Ray Boyle, nearly 16, is sentenced to death by a breathing disorder medical science calls Azaray syndrome (though Aza herself thinks it should be called "Clive" or maybe "the Jackass"). Somehow she keeps surviving: hating the hospital, snarking at her teachers, loving her batty family, and completely relying on her anti-social best friend, Jason. When the worst happens, Aza's shocked at how unprepared she really is. She's even less prepared to wake up on an airship, surrounded by blue-skinned sailors and giant bird people who call her Aza Ray Quel. Aza, it seems, is the lost savior of the sky people of Magonia, stolen away and hidden on land. Politicking and conspiracies confuse Aza (and set up a sequel). She really ought to relish being special as she masters her newfound powers of singing and working with a bird familiar (shaky worldbuilding leaves the magical structure somewhat hand-wavy). The painful, sarcastic beauty of Aza's interactions down below in the everyday world begs comparisons to John Green's The Fault in Our Stars (2012), yet passive savior Aza of Magonia is a pale shadow of her nonmagical self.

Striking an uneven balance between gorgeous realism and banal fantasy, this requires readers tolerant of books with split personalities. (Fantasy. 13-15)

Pub Date: April 28th, 2015
ISBN: 978-0-06-232052-0
Page count: 320pp
Publisher: Harper/HarperCollins
Review Posted Online:
Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 15th, 2015


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