Book review by
Andrea Beach, Common Sense Media
Magonia Book Poster Image
Appealing heroine, vague world-building in exciting fantasy.

Parents say

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Kids say

age 12+
Based on 2 reviews

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A lot or a little?

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

Educational Value

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.

Positive Messages

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 & Representations

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.


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.


An almost kiss, one kiss, hand-holding. Characters notice physical attractiveness. Getting your period mentioned once.


Infrequent use of "f--ked," "f--ker," "s--t," "hell," "badass," "crap," "ass."


Frequent mention of common websites and search engines such as Google or Wikipedia. Spanx mentioned once.

Drinking, Drugs & Smoking

Teen smoking mentioned once.

What 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.

User Reviews

  • Parents say
  • Kids say

There aren't any reviews yet. Be the first to review this title.

Teen, 13 years old Written byPerigrian July 4, 2015
I found this book after seeing the trailer on YouTube. To be honest, until you read the book it was really hard to understand what the story was all about. With... Continue reading
Teen, 13 years old Written byreccomendedusername March 22, 2019

quite good....

although I have seen the beginning of the plot before, it was written well and sarcastically, which is something that I like in a book. After a certain event th... Continue reading

What's the story?

Aza, about to turn 16, has spent her life in and out of hospitals. She's had trouble breathing her whole life and is a veteran of every kind of test or invasive procedure you can imagine. She met Jason when they were 5, and both sensed a special bond right away. Just as their friendship is maturing into something deeper, Aza is taken away from Earth to discover a world up in the clouds called MAGONIA, where ships sail the skies with crews of bird-like humans and human-like birds. In Magonia she can breathe freely and learns who and what she was meant to be. But can she bring herself to leave Jason -- and all those she loves back home -- forever?

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.

Talk to your kids about ...

  • Families can talk about why fantasy novels are so popular. Why do we love them so much? 

  • Aza says that "being home is better than breathing." What does she mean by that? Do you understand why she feels that way?

  • The sky world is suffering because of the damage we humans are doing to the environment. Do you think we'd take better care of our planet if sky people were real and we knew about them? Why don't we take better care of the creatures and places that really do exist?

Book details

Our editors recommend

For kids who love fantasy

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