Aerie: Magonia Book 2

Book review by
Andrea Beach, Common Sense Media
Aerie:  Magonia Book 2 Book Poster Image
Slightly darker fantasy sequel ramps up the tension.

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A lot or a little?

The parents' guide to what's in this book.

Educational Value

A few definitions and explanations, like of the German word "Zugunruhe" and the Banach-Tarski paradox. Author's note mentions that some aspects are based on reality, specifically naming an attempt to train bats during World War II.

Positive Messages

Keep trying to reach for everything, don't limit yourself. You may not achieve or get everything, but you'll have so much more if you always keep trying. Asks whether you sometimes have to hurt instead of heal in order to find or create balance in your life. Life is scary, but don't let your fear push you into making bad choices. Lying leads to more lies and eventually warps your perception of yourself and your world.

Positive Role Models & Representations

Aza and Jason are brave and smart. They make mistakes as they learn to negotiate increasing independence, stronger emotions, and find their place in the world and each others' lives. But they know they have to try and fix their mistakes and choose their own lives. Both come from strong, supportive families that all model loyalty and support.

Violence

Frequent peril from fantasy creatures and magic. A couple of kidnappings involve interrogations with torture. Pain is mentioned and sometimes described vaguely, blood is mentioned but not described. Peril from large-scale destruction and flooding. A climactic fantasy battle with magic has no blood or gore, but lots of tension and suspense.

Sex

Some kissing and caressing. Mention that 17-year-olds have been having sex for about six months. Condom use mentioned. Frank thoughts about how sex isn't always magical. A vague description of an unsatisfying first time having sex mentions pain but doesn't describe it.

Language

"S--t" and "f--k" (frequent), "ass" (body part), a character calls himself "dumbass," "badass," "pissed off," "bats--t," "hell," and "bulls--t."

Consumerism
Drinking, Drugs & Smoking

Psychiatric medications mentioned but not specified. A needle is jabbed in a patient's thigh and drifting out of consciousness is described briefly.

What parents need to know

Parents need to know that Aerie is the sequel to the fantasy Magonia, and will probably be more thoroughly understood and appreciated by those who've read the first volume. Violence is in the fantasy world, and though there's little blood and gore, the heroes are frequently in peril from large-scale destruction, fantasy creatures, and a government agency that kidnaps and tortures them. It's mentioned that the older teens have been having sex, that the first time was painful, and that they're being safe and won't have any "accidental babies." Some kissing and caressing is briefly described. Strong language includes frequent use of "s--t" and "f--k." Both Aza and Jason have strong ties to loving and supportive families, and overall messages are positive about living a life of your own choosing, finding balance, and always trying to reach your goals.

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What's the story?

AERIE begins a few months after the events in Magonia, with 17-year-old Aza Ray finally living a fairly comfortable, happy life on Earth with her family and boyfriend Jason. But Magonia still calls to Aza, and she knows part of her will always long to return to the sky. When she and Jason suspect that a Magonian has appeared in town, they're afraid she'll go after Aza, or worse still, Aza's loved ones. Jason's fear for Aza's safety leads a secret government agency to capture, imprison and torture Aza in hopes she'll lead them to a secret weapon that could destroy both worlds. In order to save those she loves, Aza will have to leave them behind once again, returning to Magonia to find the secret weapon herself and confront her mother, who's only wants revenge on all the people of Earth.

Is it any good?

This fantasy sequel is more suspenseful and slightly darker, as heroine Aza faces the challenges of emerging into adulthood -- not to mention saving two worlds while she's at it. Readers who haven't read Magonia may not find Aza and Jason as understandable or easy to root for, but fantasy fans will definitely enjoy the imaginative world above the clouds and the magical creatures to be found there. And teens will definitely relate to Aza's and Jason's struggles toward maturity as they learn to accept themselves and each other as they are, and to have the courage to live their own lives.

Favorite supporting characters return, as do the villainous Zal and Dai, and author Headley ably keeps the pages turning as tension and suspense build to the final confrontation. She also leaves the door open for further adventures in an intriguing new world, and fantasy fans will have a lot to look foward to.

Talk to your kids about ...

  • Families can talk about the strong language in Aerie. Does it add believability, or does it seem gratuitous?

  • What about the violence? How much is OK in books, and is it different from seeing it on TV or in movies?

  • Did you read Magonia first? Do you like Aerie as well, or better? If you didn't read the first book, was this one easy to follow?

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