A Lot or a Little?
What you will—and won't—find in this book.
Lots of brief "factoids" on wide range of subjects, from Kon-Tiki to definition of "sous rature." Two or three quotes and extracts from poet E.E. Cummings.
Life and death aren't as different as you'd think. Broken bonds are very serious and not always resolved by death. Humans need to be better stewards of the planet and environment. Home, strong family and friendship ties, mutual support, and appreciating each other stressed.
Positive Role Models
Aza and Jason are smart, brave, and loyal, and they put themselves in danger to help others and are determined to do what's right. Both come from loving, supportive families. Jason is matter-of-fact about having two moms, and they're positive models for how nontraditional families are just like any other.
Violence & Scariness
Infrequent fantasy violence, mostly battles and fights with swords and arrows. Pain and blood from injuries briefly described. Heroes frequently in peril from fantasy elements.
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Sex, Romance & Nudity
An almost kiss, one kiss, hand-holding. Characters notice physical attractiveness. Getting your period mentioned once.
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Infrequent use of "f--ked," "f--ker," "s--t," "hell," "badass," "crap," "ass."
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Products & Purchases
Frequent mention of common websites and search engines such as Google or Wikipedia. Spanx mentioned once.
Drinking, Drugs & Smoking
Teen smoking mentioned once.
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Parents Need to Know
Parents need to know that Magonia is a fantasy novel from Maria Dahvana Headley, who coedited the story collection Unnatural Creatures with Neil Gaiman. Fifteen-year-old Aza has a rare disorder that makes breathing difficult, and she's frequently in peril from medical emergencies. Fantasy violence is infrequent, mostly battles or fighting with swords and arrows. Pain and blood from injuries are briefly described a few times. There's some hand-holding, characters' noticing physical attractiveness, and one kiss. Strong language is infrequent but includes "f--ker," "s--t," and "ass" once or twice each. Positive messages emphasize strong family and friendship bonds.
Is It Any Good?
Funny, quirky heroes, mystery, and exciting action keep the pages turning in this imaginative novel. Uneven descriptions make some fantasy elements hard to visualize, but teen fantasy fans content to go along for the ride will find an intriguing new world to delve into. Author Dahvana Headley excels at getting inside her protagonists' minds and emotions. She creates vivid, believable characters who are easy to relate to and fun to root for.
But some aspects of the fantasy world she creates don't quite come together to create a believable whole, and the reader is left with only a vague understanding of what's being described. This creates a sensation that the author was grasping at novelty rather than telling a story that had to be told. Still, teens, especially fantasy fans, are unlikely to let these occasional lapses affect their enjoyment of an otherwise compelling story.
Did we miss something on diversity?
Research shows a connection between kids' healthy self-esteem and positive portrayals in media. That's why we've added a new "Diverse Representations" section to our reviews that will be rolling out on an ongoing basis. You can help us help kids by suggesting a diversity update.