Monday, May 18, 2015

Magonia

MagoniaMagonia by Maria Dahvana Headley

My rating: 4 of 5 stars


Let me begin by saying that I enjoyed reading this book immensely. The characters are easy to become attached to and the story is unique.

However!

I struggled with the plausibility of this fantasy simply because it takes place in modern society. If Magonia, a country that exists in the sky, was, perhaps, in a parallel dimension or hidden by magic, I could more willingly suspend my disbelief. BUT! In our world of Global Positioning Satellites, there are no more hidden places- especially not the entire sky! Magonia couldn't become invisible to us simply by hiding within storms- despite the fact that they are quasi-magical storms. I am curious to see if Headley can better convince me of this plausibility as the series continues.

THAT being said...

This is a love story of the truest kind. From the moment he laid eyes on Aza Ray in preschool, Jason has loved her. Despite the fact that she was emaciated, gasping, and near to death, Jason always saw the power and spark within her. Aza Ray has loved Jason since she was small as well. His genius, his anxiety, his insatiable need to know things has been the epicenter of her universe forever.

So, when Aza Ray dies, Jason knows the truth when no one else does. Jason knows about Magonia.


Headley expertly develops her characters. Jason is even more lovable than Augustus Waters from The Fault in Our Stars (and he is super-lovable). Aza Ray starts out powerful and admirable, wavers in her resolve midway through the novel (and you kind of want to shake her)- but her power returns.

This may prove to be a wonderful series...so far 4 out of 5 stars.

For ages 12+

Friday, May 8, 2015

Wow!

I'll Give You the SunI'll Give You the Sun by Jandy Nelson

My rating: 5 of 5 stars


It is almost impossible to discuss this book without spoiling one of the intricate layers built into its weaving. This is a story about love persevering despite the rules we often force ourselves to live by. This is a story about being brave enough to pursue happiness. This is a story about passion, loss, betrayal, forgiveness, evolution, and joy.

I will not unravel any of Ms. Nelson's gorgeous plot tapestry by giving you a synopsis- every discovery in this book should be yours to savor.

Know this- I'll Give You the Sun is a young adult book that needed to be written. It is beautiful and you must read it.

I will leave you with this quote:

“Or maybe a person is just made up of a lot of people,” I say. “Maybe we’re accumulating these new selves all the time.” Hauling them in as we make choices, good and bad, as we screw up, step up, lose our minds, find our minds, fall apart, fall in love, as we grieve, grow, retreat from the world, dive into the world, as we make things, as we break things.” ― Jandy Nelson, I'll Give You the Sun

~Ages 14+ for content.



Wednesday, May 6, 2015

The Golem and the Jinni by Helene Wecker

The Golem and the JinniThe Golem and the Jinni by Helene Wecker

My rating: 5 of 5 stars


What defines life? I would argue that Helene Wecker defines life as "Having Free Will." To be alive but to be enslaved, physically, mentally, emotionally, is to be nothing but a walking corpse...a puppet.

A Golem is just that- a clay puppet created to do the will of its master. A Jinni is a transcendental being, untethered by the laws of physics. However, an enslaved Jinni is also a puppet.

Every puppet has a master.

What happens when the masters are gone?

This fantasy novel spans hundreds of years and three countries. We begin in Poland, travel to Syria, and then on to New York City as we follow the paths of Chava and Ahmad.

Chava is a Golem, originally created to be a man's wife- which is a blasphemy. Ahmad is a Jinni, freed from his copper prison but still trapped in human form. Both magical creatures possess abilities that are superhuman. Both must pretend to be human in a world that would never believe them to be otherwise. However, despite their not being human, they experience human life with its joys, pains, and choices.

They possess Free Will but are, unknowingly, in constant threat of losing it.

This is a beautifully written tale that is part historical fiction, part folk tale. The characters are not only developed, they breathe actual breath. Brava Ms. Wecker!

For ages 15+.