So, this was a weird one. I will say that I did like it, but it was just so weird.
Without spoiling anything, this book is about a girl named Aza who has had trouble breathing all her life. On her sixteenth birthday she finds out that she couldn’t breath because she doesn’t belong to this world, she actually belongs to a world that exists about us; Magonia. I’ll get more into the story below in the spoilers.
Even though I did enjoy this book, I found it very boring and hard to get into, especially in the beginning. For the first 8 chapters, there is barely any dialog. It’s basically all Aza’s thoughts about how she is always sick, and always in the hospital, and how she is so rebellious. And in the first 8, you get one chapter from her friends point of view and he basically does the same thing. I don’t know, I didn’t like that.
But like I said, I liked it, but I didn’t love it. I really wanted to though, especially with that big ‘ole Neil Gaiman quote at the top. I love his books, so I was full of hope with his endorsement of this one.
I gave it 3 stars on Goodreads, and I’ll continue the series, even though reading it, it felt like this was a stand alone and wrapped up in the end. I saw that it was a series, so if it really is I’ll continue it.
Aza Ray has a mysterious condition that no doctor is able to fix. It is so unheard of that it is named after her; AzaRay Syndrome. Basically, her lungs do not work. She has a hard time breathing and knows that she will die from this around her sixteenth birthday; at least that’s what the doctors have told her. Her latest exam actually revealed a feather in her lung, and no way of knowing how it got there. In school while taking a test she looks out the window and notices a ship sailing above the clouds calling her name. No one believes her, but her best friend Jason who secretly does his research on ships in the sky.
He reveals this to her, and tells her about the legend of Magonia. It’s a story about people who said they came from a ship in the sky, and a sailor who ‘drowned in the air’ exactly like what is happening to Aza. Before they can talk more, Aza’s sister comes home and interrupts them. Aza goes to her room where she hears her name being called again from outside. Soon there are many birds around her, and one flies into her mouth and she passes out.
“That’s a fairy tale.” Something occurs to me. “What does he say happened to the sailor?”
Jason looks at me.
“The sailor drowned,” he says.
I meet his eyes.
“In the air. He drowned in the air. So, keep telling me about the ‘not-relevant’ situation. You haven’t been drowning for sixteen years in air or anything.”
She awakes later in an ambulance with her father, sister, and Jason and ends up ‘dying,’ or so she thought.
After her death, Jason is still looking into Magonia. At her funeral he looks up into the clouds and notices something falling down to earth. He can also swear that he hears Aza calling his name.
With Aza, she awakens with no memory of her death, but is shocked by the large, human sized owl in her room. The owl tells her that she is a Rostrae, and the Aza was saved just as she was about to die. She is now aboard the Amina Pennarum. During her time aboard the ship she learns that she is from this world, which is why she couldn’t breath on land among the ‘drowners.’ She meets her mother, Zal, who explains that she was kidnapped and left. She also meets Dai, the first mate, and her ‘song partner.’ Everyone, including her, are Magonians, or Bird People. In her case, as is the case with Dai, she is blue and her chest opens up to allow a bird that is bonded to her to live in her lung. There is also another bird she hears calling throughout the ship, but she is told that the bird who cries is only a ghost.
She tries to learn the ways of the ship, but is unable to learn her song, which is her power. That is, until, the ship is attacked by pirates who are looking for her, led by a bird woman named Ley. During the fighting, Aza falls off the ship to her death, but along with her lung bird Milekt, she sings and it allows her to stop falling long enough for Dai to pick her up and bring her back to the ship. With her new found song, Aza is able to turn the tides and the crew of Amina Pennarum defeat the pirates.
As it turns out, Ley is also the one who kidnapped Aza and brought her to the ground. Her orders were actually to kill her because of what Zal wanted to use her for, but she refused. Through her they realize that more people know about Aza due to The Breath, individuals who are hired by the bird people to carry out unthinkable tasks. Ley is later sent overboard to die, but warns Aza not to trust Zal. Zal convinces Aza to participate in her plans to help Magonia not be dependent on drowners.
She agrees to the plan, but is deterred by a Rostrae named Jik who informs her that the bird who calls through the ship is alive and that it belonged to Zal. Aza doesn’t believe it at first, but after her personal Rostrae, Wedda, hints at the same, she goes to her mothers room and frees the bird by sailing out of range. It’s then that she is kidnapped by The Breath, and learns what they truly are; Humans raised in Magonia. The leader, Hayward, is actually the real daughter of the parents who raised Aza on land. Hayward tries to get information out of Aza about Zals plans, but the ship is attacked by Amina Pennarum coming to the rescue. The Breath escapes, and Aza is brought back.
They continue their plan and end up at the seed repository in Svalbard. Aza and Dai, along with their lung birds, begin to sing causing the vault to open and the seed they came for to fly up into the sky. During that, Zal commands Dai to begin the real plan to flood the Earth. Aza wants to stop, but is unable to as she is controlled by Dai’s song. It’s not until she sees Jason, who she thought was killed by The Breath assassin Hayward, and when the bird she freed comes back to bond with her that she is able to gain control and stop the damage. She also frees all the enslaved Magonians, and the ship crashed down to the ground.
Zal and Dai are picked up by the Magonia capitol along with some members of The Breath. Aza is found by Jason, and he takes her back to her family.
Not the best recap, but I’ll be honest, a lot of this book really bored me. I wanted to love it, especially since it has such high recommends on Amazon and Goodreads, but for me it went a bit slow.
So now, problems? Well to start with, even though the characters were great, there was still no development I felt with them, some even kind of went backwards. For example, in the beginning Aza Ray was a relateable, annoying teenager, minus the dying from mysterious illness. She thought she knew everything, she argued with her teacher, and she did her own thing. Once she got to Magonia it was a whole different story. She believed anything anyone told her; she believed her mother when she said all she wanted to do was take back the seeds that belonged to Magonia, she believed Ley and Jik when they said not to trust Zal, she believed Dai when she learned his story about the capitol caring only for themselves and not the people, she believed Hayward when she said she killed Jason. It was like she became extremely gullible. You could have told her rain was caused by a giant bird peeing, and she probably would have believed that. Yea, she learned she belonged to a different world, but that doesn’t mean you loose your common sense.
Another problem I had was the Magonia capitol, Maganwetar. We never see it, we never, go to it, we never really meet anyone from it, which is why I can’t believe that Aza Ray suddenly believed everything about this place she never even laid eyes on. The whole of the book was about what was on this one ship, and I wish I could have learned more about the world of Magoina…oh well, maybe next book.
One last thing I took issue with was basically lazy writing at the end. Aza sees Jason in Svalbard, and we get this explanation of how he got there:
You don’t want to know how I got here, you don’t want to know how much it cost, you don’t want to know how gigantically in deep shit I am. I left a note for Carol and Eve. They’ll never forgive me, except they love me, so they will…
…Forged documents. Hacked computer. Claiming of consular privileges. I called in favors. I accrued debts that I will be spending the rest of my life paying off. And I’m officially the biggest pain in the ass in the entirety of the dark side of the internet right now, but it was worth it.
It’s like, yes I do want to know all of that, please elaborate on it. I would love to have a few chapters on how this teenage boy was able to go all the way to Norway and enter a secure seed vault. It wasn’t hard to figure out he would end up there, so it wasn’t at all a surprise, what is a surprise is how and I think we deserved a better explanation. At least in Twilight New Moon we knew they were able to jump on a plane so fast because the Cullens were rich. I would have been satisfied with Jason’s family being fairly wealthy, that would have been a fine explanation.
Now for the good.
I love that the Mythology of Magonia is the bases of the book. It’s such an interesting concept, and though I had my problems with this book, the overall story is so interesting. I want more information on the capitol city, and more of the life of those who live there.
Carol and Eve. They are Jason’s mothers. For most people, this may not be a big deal, but for me I don’t recall reading a book that had parents of the same sex before. This might actually be my first one. Nothing else comes to mind, so for me it is a pretty big thing.
I also liked that it was really different than anything else I’ve ever read. I mean really, a door to your lung opening up so a bird could fly in? I haven’t seen that before.
I’m looking forward to continuing this series. When you get to the end, it wraps up pretty nice, so I was surprised to see there would be another one. Either way, I would recommend it.