There comes a time in every readers life when they stumble upon a book that challenges their ability to form a logical (let alone complete) sentence. Whether it’s the plot, or the characters that live inside the plot, the only thing that comes to mind is:
What did I just read?
For a reviewer, this sentence is the kiss of death. It dampens our ability to sound sane while explaining why we loved “said book” so much. But…at the same time it elicits excitement.
“What do you mean ‘what did you just read?’ That’s not a review…that is a copout!”
To which I say fair enough. But, you have been warned. This review might indeed be what some refer to as: a hot mess
At the risk of sounding like a squealing teenage fangirl, I LOVED this book!! It’s not your everyday fantasy, it’s more than that. It’s the dreams I had as a child. It’s everything beautiful about escapism reading. It’s inventive, and invigorating, and just flat out WEIRD! (Which I have to admit is a limited-edition gem in YA lit today.) It’s also incredibly difficult to discuss without giving away its secrets. Alas, I will try.
The story itself is really quite wild, and (like I stated above) I found myself on more than one occasion wondering what the hell I was reading. However, that simple thought, the… “what the hell am I reading?” made me WANT, no…CRAVE the next page. And I’m so happy that it did. This book was equal parts Neil Gaiman and Philip K Dick. It was fantastical and heartfelt. It was blood pumping and mystifying.
“Magonia” was so full of awe inspiring moments that I found myself having to stop and talk about it with a friend just so I could understand what was going on. (Though, I’m not so sure SHE knew what was going when my texts went something like: “It’s so F’ing brilliant/weird/heartbreaking/entertaining/WTF! There really is no better way to describe it. There are flying boats/super sharks/OCD boys/bats as big as ships/evil baby snatching drowners/lung birds/rock summoning war cries!) I’ll spare you the rest, because I start to sound a bit psychotic, but you get what I’m saying.
It is a perfectly woven web of everything that makes fantasy worth the ride it takes you on.
That said (cause there’s always a ‘but’ isn’t there) there are a couple of idioscynracies (that I thoroughly enjoyed about this book) that I’m convinced others might claim to have serious issues with. For instance, information dumps. (At least two on every page.) Here’s an example of what I’m talking about.
Both of the main characters (Aza and Jason – who dual narrate Magonia) are rather manic in their dialogue. They are also obsessed with random facts. (ie: they spend a lot of time on wiki doing research about nonsense.) That shows in the writing. The dialogue will hop back and forth in sync with the characters looping train of thought. Some paragraphs are one word sentences. Some are two or three words. When reading it to yourself it makes the character seem out of breath, or easily distracted. (Much like Mafi’s characters did in “Shatter Me.”) I find this endearing, it illustrates the panic in the brain of the character you’re reading about. But it can be irritating. And can cause hatred towards a book that is somewhat phenomenal in its making.