There is an actual sharknado in this book. I feel like that should somehow be review enough. I mean… Maria Dahvana Headley seems like a wonderful person and I feel truly awful for saying this, but Magonia is a terrible book, it is unbelievable, boringly crafted and the structure of the story is completely imbalanced. I hated it, I was bored out of my mind – but the cover’s really pretty, so I guess that’s something.
It starts out fine. Aza is your run of the mill quirky dying girl with a best friend she’s kind of in love with. Her disease is mysterious and then she sees a ship in the sky and then she dies.
But it turns out she was only sick because she was never meant to be human and the ship is actually part of her real home, Magonia. She is actually Magonian, a bird-hybrid people who drown in Earth air. And she is meant to save the Magonian people.
Sounds amazing right – we got a little sass, we got an epic fight between good and evil, a young protagonist struggling to find her place in the role this new world has built for her.
is just god damn awful.
This is an actual quote from the book. Word for word, or rather character for character:
[…], and we are like
like [[[[[[[[[[[ ]]]]]]]]]]]
H O M E
E M O H
For as long as it lasts
I appreciate the exploration of punctuation to convey emotion and the nod to the special teenage language that exists, but this just did not work. It wasn’t as poetic as she wanted it to be, it just didn’t belong in the stream of consciousness narration that took place.
Which is the next thing; You can’t see the plot for pure rambling. Aza is constantly narrating, talking, rambling, feeling, and you can’t see the world through it. I still don’t know what the bird people look like. I didn’t understand the squall whales that were actually clouds…and then the same time the bats that were sails. Don’t even get me started on the stormsharks that came in from the sidelines hung around and then left posing no real threat and contributing nothing to the world building.
I should have been the core audience for this. I love cities in the sky and pirate ships sailing among the clouds. So much of this book sounded great; the bonding to your songbird and the power of music. But none of these things joined together to create a coherent world. There were just too many things being thrown in there and none of them fit together. We’re told the story solely through Aza’s inner dialogue and she never questions things or exhamines her own motivations. She mainly talks about current feelings which are very, very uninteresting. I get that she’s a teenager, but teenagers love to reflect, search for bigger pictures. Teenagers thrive on personal growth. Aza just sort of bounces around feeling things.
Don’t even get me started on how her friend Jason was a master hacker who just knew that Aza wasn’t really dead. A teenager with access to “favors” all over the world. Also apparently rich and mentally ill – but still able to escape from his two parents and travel halfway around the world. He’s 16, I mean come on. Top it of with blatant, preachy environmentalism and I was just sooo out.
I wanted to love this book so much, but I kept being distracted by the sloppiness of it all. Even small things, like the language; Magenwetar, Magonia and milekt do not seem like words from the same language. And that’s the worst part. This book wanted to create and explore new worlds. This book wanted to be good, interesting, moving. I can read a terrible book, maybe even appreciate it for what it is. Twilight never intended to be much more than a love story and so I can’t really be mad at it, if I don’t love it. Magonia wanted to be so much more – and so it failed worse than Twilight ever could.