A lot or a little?
The parents' guide to what's in this book.
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.
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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?
- Author: Maria Dahvana Headley
- Genre: Fantasy
- Topics: Magic and Fantasy, Adventures, Friendship, Misfits and Underdogs
- Book type: Fiction
- Publisher: Harper
- Publication date: April 28, 2015
- Publisher's recommended age(s): 13 - 17
- Number of pages: 320
- Available on: Nook, Audiobook (unabridged), Hardback, iBooks, Kindle
- Last updated: June 19, 2019
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