Discussion

Dare to Discuss Magonia?

Welcome

Welcome to Dare to Discuss, a bi-monthly event for readers, reviewers, and bloggers to have in-depth discussions about books. Anyone and everyone is welcome to participate and join the discussion. But first, here’s a few rules.

Rules

  1. Be polite. All opinions are welcome in this discussion and contrasting viewpoints are encouraged, but be respectful and polite. This discussion is about the book. Check your personal vendettas at the door. Thank you.
  2. Feel free to link to your own review of the book in the comments, but please keep the discussion here. That way everyone can join in!

The Book

Aza Ray is drowning in thin air.

Since she was a baby, Aza has suffered from a mysterious lung disease that makes it ever harder for her to breathe, to speak—to live.

So when Aza catches a glimpse of a ship in the sky, her family chalks it up to a cruel side effect of her medication. But Aza doesn’t think this is a hallucination. She can hear someone on the ship calling her name.

Only her best friend, Jason, listens. Jason, who’s always been there. Jason, for whom she might have more-than-friendly feelings. But before Aza can consider that thrilling idea, something goes terribly wrong. Aza is lost to our world—and found, by another. Magonia.

Above the clouds, in a land of trading ships, Aza is not the weak and dying thing she was. In Magonia, she can breathe for the first time. Better, she has immense power—and as she navigates her new life, she discovers that war is coming. Magonia and Earth are on the cusp of a reckoning. And in Aza’s hands lies the fate of the whole of humanity—including the boy who loves her. Where do her loyalties lie?


The Reviews

Melanie @ MNBernard Books says:

The world of Magonia is so fantastic! It’s unique, it’s intriguing. There are so many parts of it that are offered to the reader and yet… there’s one part that created a barrier between me and the world: the intangibility of it. Much of the world was explained in vague concepts. [Full Review Here]

Lilyn @ Scifi & Scary says:

Magonia is a young adult novel that provides swashbuckling adventure, romance, and snuffly moments galore. It’s a story that gives the readers a taste of the true love they all seem to crave and skirts neatly around a love triangle. It’s fantasy mashed against reality, where some of the edges bond together.  And the ending? So not what you would expect, and absolutely awesome. [Full Review Here]

David @ The Scary Reviews says:

[Aza’s] attitude is a bit flippant but I enjoyed that she doesn’t take life too seriously and let it get her down. I really enjoyed the first third of the book along with the very real way the author approaches Aza’s impending death. […] The last two-thirds of the book was a strange mix of fantasy and fairy tale along with something else I can’t put my finger on. I’m not sure if I missed the boat, no pun intended, or if this book was just too out there for me. [Full Review Here]


The Discussion

Please note that spoilers are acceptable and likely to happen! You’re encouraged to ask your own questions about the book for other discussioners, but in case you don’t have any, I’ve listed a few below to get the ball rolling.

  • What are your thoughts on the mythology of Magonia? How would you feel about ships in the sky?
  • What do you think could have been done differently in the book to make it better?
  • Was this your first time reading about disability in YA fiction? If so, did it have an effect on your experience with the story?
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108 thoughts on “Dare to Discuss Magonia?”

  1. Lilyn – To answer you question a bit better about why I checked out. It was all of the talk about the people on the ship being birds and or people at the same time. It was such a stark difference from where the story started that it left me wanting to know what the heck happened! I thought I had started to read a different book.

    Liked by 1 person

        1. Nah! I definitely didn’t understand their relationship either (as I stated in another comment. I’m all over the map right now.) Like Aza rejected her at first, but then seemed to forget her own family almost right away and then trusted her mother when her mother was obviously shady and didn’t give her any reason to trust her or anything. It was so forced.

          Liked by 1 person

          1. We are on the same page about so many parts of this book (except I that liked the beginning). I agree that when Aza was on the ship it all progressed too fast and her relationship with the ship mother was very odd and off putting.

            Liked by 1 person

              1. I like a faster pace most of the time but I was really hooked on the authors ability to deal with the potential loss of Aza, and then the reaction of her passing. That is cool you are a writer. Some of the best people I know are writers! 🙂

                Liked by 1 person

    1. That whole part of the situation was so weird I expected weird. So… you have a loving family for 16 years and then ‘real mom’ sends someone to basically kill you so you can come home and be the savior of the world — yikes! I wouldn’t know how to react to that, either. Though maybe I’d have wondered if ‘real mom’ was actually some sort of unrelated, crazed magical stalker. Which, in part, she sort of was…

      Liked by 2 people

    1. Oh, definitely. No, fantasy/contemporary isn’t my wheelhouse. Nor is YA, which you could call this — like so many good YA, it’s really more of a book for all ages. But I do branch out on my reading from time to time as my interests shift, or sometimes on purpose to keep the brain agile.
      This was well-written and engaging — that’s really all I ask for in a story.
      And it did have elements from general literature that crop up often in science fiction — especially the secondary world setting and the young characters thrown into unfamiliar circumstances with which they must cope.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. I’d expect the transition to be a lot easier the second time, since everyone knows what’s up now. So I think I’ll put the next book on my wish list & will pick it up after a month or two.

        That does bring up something about the ending — the reunion with the parents felt very compressed and rushed to me. Kind of like “I don’t want to draw this out, so they totally believe her right away.” Hurrying on to the next book.

        I sympathize as someone who also often writes too-abrupt endings.

        Liked by 1 person

  2. The sentence ‘I’m right here. And not’…. that is a knife to the heart!
    I don’t know how the author can write with such a perfect grasp on those feelings. Did anyone else feel the emotions as strongly as I did?!?

    Liked by 2 people

    1. The author was awesome when it came to emotional communication. There were times when I wanted to say it was over the top — especially the spots where it broke into playing with word shapes and layout for impact — but those high-intensity moments were sparing enough that they didn’t lose their impact.
      And the thread of the emotions wasn’t lost through the less emotional moments. I’ve seen plenty of authors who were good at one or the other, but not as many who balanced intensity and remembering to show the impact of intense moments later.

      Liked by 1 person

        1. I think this particular part of the story went over my head a bit. Maybe it’s because I grew up in the Myspace/AIM era and it felt too much like inappropriate, juvenile chat speak. Or perhaps I just don’t have the emotional experience in life to truly understand the depth of these statements. But it just… didn’t connect to me for some reason.

          Liked by 1 person

          1. I think part of it for me was that you can fill in the blanks. Its not a trite declaration that’s been said a hundred times. Its what YOU feel. “I love you more than chocolate.” “I care for you more than Zeus cared for sex.” “I adore you more than Narcissus did his reflection.” “I love you more than humans love oxygen.” etc.

            Liked by 1 person

    1. I think there were a couple reasons why the middle of the book didn’t work that well. I mean, the middle of the book was when the real plot kicked in and she found herself on the ship and she was trying to figure out her relationships and her life and where she stood. She was trying to accept the way things were, but not let go of her past. And her interactions with the other characters on the ship just felt… wrong, in my opinion. That and the pacing did a massive jump that caused in-cohesion for me.

      Liked by 1 person

  3. David – you have a point about the ‘checking out’ in the middle of the book. I did that a little bit myself. I was going through re-reading it last night/today, and I realized that even though I clearly remembered the beginning and the end, the middle was a bit fuzzy for me. Still…that ending was fantastic!

    Liked by 2 people

          1. I think the way the story was (apparently) conceived and executed, the only real way to ease the transition would have been to greatly shorten the first segment leading up to Aza’s death. Probably to a chapter. Which would have shoved a lot of the development of her character onto the shipboard environment and limited background to flashbacks and exposition and probably clumsy dialog. It would have also really put a dent into establishing Jason’s character and his importance to the story.

            As it is, it really is two novellas strapped together. It’s clunky, but the other way around I think would have put more emotional distance between the reader and story.

            My take is the author really wanted to tell the story and said, ‘to heck with the flaws, this is the path I choose.’ Glad she did.

            Liked by 2 people

            1. Clunky is the perfect description. I wouldn’t want Aza’s development to be lessened in any way. She was great! and so was Jason. I would have rather seen less of the shipboard part of the story shortened if anything.

              Liked by 1 person

            2. Hmm… I never thought about it that way. I was actually looking for less background in the beginning. I’m so used to it being filtered in throughout the later chapters, that it seemed to drag for me. But I can understand your need for the background. It really sets up the importance of the characters and their interactions and their personalities. Though, perhaps one or two less chapters? Some of that didn’t feel entirely necessary in my opinion to write the story.

              Like

    1. I actually didn’t like the ending. But I don’t generally like happy endings. I think my biggest issue with the ending was how unrealistic it felt for me. Yeah, she had a body suit, but it wasn’t gonna last very long and they didn’t really have any back-up plans. I guess I’m too much of a planner for these kinds of endings. :/

      Liked by 1 person

        1. Yeah. I suppose I could understand that, but I’m not sure how I’d feel about going back to my family in a different body. I’m not sure I’d want to cause them that kind of pain of being like: ‘Hey! I’m back, but I’m probably gonna have to leave again soon. For good this time. Okay, bye!’ I dunno. That seems kind of selfish in my opinion. :/

          Liked by 1 person

  4. I know from reading your (Melanie’s) review, that you didn’t really care for the way Aza was, but for me, that was a big part of why I liked it so much. Aza is defiant and mouthy and brave and extremely funny. Yes, she thought/talked about death a lot, but getting close to those anniversaries/limits, the possibility of death weighs on you like a 2 ton truck on flimsy boards. So, i guess I just bought that part more than anything else. It seemed “right” to me.

    Liked by 2 people

        1. It hit me hard when the author said “she’s gone…. and we lost her” I know what that feels like too well. And ‘being lost’ from losing someone close. The author did such a great job with all of her descriptions on how they felt from losing Aza

          Liked by 2 people

    1. Interesting to see the different reactions to the character. For me she really walked the line between too much internal hand-wringing and turmoil and just being interesting and believable in her life circumstances and then her dislocation from her old life. There’s sort of a trope of instant adaptation in which protagonists spend a paragraph having a “realistic” reaction to a situation and then they’re over it and being all heroic.
      I appreciated that the way Aza was written bucked that trope, even when I was a bit annoyed as a reader and thinking “she’s still going on about that (there were several “thats”?”

      Liked by 2 people

      1. See, I don’t think I ever got the sense of ‘hand-wringing’. I would say flippant acceptance paired with frantic denial. She’s a courageous fighter, and a scared almost sixteen year old. – But thinking about it, I can kind of see where you might say hand-wringing. She was very dramatic!! ………..but what sixteen year old isn’t? LOL

        Liked by 2 people

      2. I think so many protagonists end up accepting so quickly because that’s so often what we’re told to do in real life. ‘Life moves on whether you do or not’ and so it kind of forces people to move on in books. That and most YA books are written for short attention spans. So they can’t spend too much time dwelling even if it is realistic. :/

        But I did like how it was brought up again and again, like she was still easing into it. It felt a little abrupt and out of place at times, but it was there.

        Like

    2. Oh! I agree with you that it was right. Her reaction was natural, but I guess it isn’t the type of book I like to read, if that makes sense. And then her personality kind of struggled when she got on the ship. I think that’s what really threw me was like… she lost her whole personality the second she found herself alive again when she should’ve stayed the same person. Her skepticism kind of… vanished.

      Liked by 1 person

          1. I can totally see your point of view. Jason didn’t really get a dark, grungy side. Yeah, he got depressed and he went into PI, but… I dunno. There was no extreme that I was looking for, that I would expect from such a devastating loss and frankly, everything came just a little too easy for him. Does that make sense?

            Liked by 1 person

        1. And that is all you can really want out of a friend, someone who sees you as you, not your illness. But, part of the way his chapters read was kind of selfish… The whole part about wanting to ride in the ambulance with her when she was rushed away is extremely selfish in my opinion. I don’t know, I had some qualms about him.

          Like

              1. I’m glad I’m not alone on feeling that way. I loved the book until Aza died and then when she was on the ship I wondered what happened. Then she was back with Jason and her family and it was good again. But the ending was way to rushed for me.

                Liked by 1 person

                1. Honestly, the beginning dragged for me. It took forever to get to the main plot in my opinion and when it finally did it was like… it was just thrown in. Which is no doubt why we all felt a little iffy about the ship part. Though, I hated the ending.(but I’m not a huge fan of happy endings in general). And it was severely rushed.

                  Like

    1. Honestly, I didn’t like Aza. I understand she has a severe disease and she’s a teenager and her life sucks, but even after she found herself on the ship, it was like… her personality just didn’t match up with the events that were going on. I dunno. She was all like: ‘you’re not my mother, but I’m attached to you.’ and the whole thing felt off in my opinion.

      Liked by 1 person

  5. Was this your first time reading about disability in YA fiction? If so, did it have an effect on your experience with the story?

    This wasn’t my first time reading about disability in YA fiction, but it was definitely the one I connected the most with. Now, I know that’s because of my daughter’s illness, so I’m biased, but I think the author did a GREAT job in communicating that fearlovepain.

    Liked by 2 people

    1. And I’m on the opposite side of the spectrum with this being my first book dealing with disability. At least, a disability that was so severe. It added a very dark, yet realistic quality to the book. And I don’t know. I guess, I was a little disappointed by that, but I stay away from contemporary because I don’t like books being too close to reality. :/ Is that a bad thing?

      Liked by 1 person

  6. What are your thoughts on the mythology of Magonia? How would you feel about ships in the sky? – I didn’t realize this was a REAL thing until I was reading more about it somewhere. Then, of course, I had to look it up. The idea is absolutely fascinating, and one of these days I will sit down and find out more!!

    Liked by 2 people

    1. There are so many little fanciful tidbits in history, so I was not so much surprised as pleased someone had found one I’d never heard of before and built a story around it. Part of my personal background was as a fan of role-playing games like Dungeons & Dragons, which is about just that sort of thing, so I appreciated it, and that the whole thing had no flavor of an RPG — there are enough series and books that cater to that taste.

      Liked by 1 person

          1. They’re arbitrary background knowledge of the unknown and unique definitely allowed for the implementation of Magonia. Had they been normal teenagers or even only slightly abnormal teenagers, the connection would never have come through. That part of the story would have been forced. Yet, it worked well in this story, the connection at least.

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        1. It was all very vague and under developed. I also didn’t like the way the author made the people birds at the same time. I also could follow what exactly was going on with the ship. The way everyone reacted to everyone else was just so odd. I know that isn’t the clearest explanation but it is hard to put into words.

          Liked by 1 person

          1. Oh my goodness. The bird people. There were the Magonians, the bird people, and something else and I just got lost. There was way too much introduced at once with no real explanation of it and I thought Aza was a bird person for a while. It lacked a LOT of clarity. That is probably one reason why I couldn’t get into the ship part of the book.

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