My rating: 4 of 5 stars
Magonia is likely one of the most unique books you will read this year. So rarely do you get a fantasy novel that, for better or worse, feels entirely original unto itself. And, I mean, when Neil Gaiman is willing to blurb you, that's got to count for something, right?
I definitely understand why most people describe this book as "weird." And, in some respects, it is quite strange. When you've got ships in the sky and birds flying into people's mouths, how else would you describe it? But its weirdness is less like a Stephen-King-horror-story weird, and more like a let-me-get-acclimated weird. Once I got past the initial strangeness, I was completely fine suspending my disbelief. It was no less strange for me to accept as a kind of reality than any high fantasy or novel set in another world that I've read. The only difference here is that it isn't a completely different universe; it's just sitting on top of ours.
I was in a bit of a reading slump this semester/summer, and took my time reading it, so I can't say anything too great about the pacing, but that's only because I don't have a good perspective on it. I thought that the descriptions and imagery were wonderfully vivid, from the batsail wing to the Rostrae to the battle scenes. I didn't care for the singing concept overmuch, but that's only because you can't really experience music in your head the way you can hear it when you're listening or watching something.
I thought characterization was very well done. Aza Ray and Jason were so individual and strong-minded, that anyone who stood against them made me want to fight them. I mean, the beginning, with such-and-so telling Aza she's bound to some destiny, while she's still grappling with stuff? Not cool, guys!
I am interested to see what comes next. Not quite salivating, but I want to see what Maria will do in terms of showing us more of Magonia. We didn't really see any of it, or anything past the one ship. And I don't think we've seen the last of Zal or Dai, either. Until then, read on, weirdos!