Showing posts with label magical realism. Show all posts
Showing posts with label magical realism. Show all posts

Monday, January 30, 2017

[Review] Magonia (#1) - Maria Dahvana Headley: Bird Humans and Ableism





In MAGONIA, Aza has a chronic lung disease and suddenly hallucinates (or not?) a ship in the sky.

What intrigued me: Chronic illness and magical realism! Sign me up!


Strange narration and no structure

MAGONIA immediately surprised me with an incredibly unique voice. Aza's narration is very reminiscent of a stream-of-consciousness. It's hard to keep up with the plot, with her thoughts, with everything really, because there is hardly any indication of scene changes. I struggled a lot with the narration, even though it is undoubtedly very memorable and unique. 

MAGONIA uses the justification "it's magical realism, I don't have to explain anything" way too much. It desperately lacks descriptions to even begin to create images in the reader's head. This book can't hide that it has no structure whatsoever, doesn't make sense, and is absolutely weird. The weird thing isn't necessarily something negative, but it isn't a good kind of weird. I had no idea what was happening half of the time, and struggled to even understand the scenes because of the strange narration. It's really a novel that you have to pay attention to very closely to even be able to keep up, and I find that extremely unappealing and not very entertaining at all. 

Disabled people are not your plot device. Stop.

The problem with this book is that it starts out with a fantastic chronically-ill character and instead of celebrating the character's disability - decides to cure them. Could we just not do this generally. [highlight for spoiler]
  Yeah, I get it, she dies and ascends to another plane of existence and then it all makes sense why she was disabled in life because she's secretly a superhuman bird humanoid. Can we just not.
[end of spoiler]

What's the point in writing about disability if you magically cure it halfway in? Imagine how chronically-ill people feel when reading this book. Why couldn't Ava remain sick? This would've made for such a powerful read and I would've celebrated the crap out of this!

Even though MAGONIA technically doesn't deserve such a low rating because of the sheer skill, creativity, and unique voice, I am not supporting this behavior. Don't cure disabled characters for your plot, in fact don't even write about disabled characters at all if you only think it would make for an edgy blurb and brownie points! Just because it's fiction, you aren't allowed to write whatever you want, especially not if it involves marginalized people. Disabled people are not your plot device. Don't write about them if you just think it'll make for a good pitch.

Well, I should've known from the blurb. Describing chronically-ill people as "weak and dying thing[s]". NEXT!

Rating:

☆☆

 



Overall: Do I Recommend?

Absolutely not, I would even go as far as to actively advise against reading it because it's so incredibly, incredibly insensitive. MAGONIA lures with an interesting idea, but is absolutely ruined through its insensitivity and ignorant ableist message. So, at what point do real-life chronically ill people get invited to Magonia so everything will be rainbows and butterflies again?



Additional Info

Published: April 28th 2015
Pages: 309
Publisher: HarperCollins
Genre: YA / Magical Realism
ISBN: 9780062320520

Synopsis:
"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?(Source: Goodreads)


Have you read MAGONIA?

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Friday, June 17, 2016

Recommendation: We Awaken - Calista Lynne: Dreamwalking, Asexuality, and Girl Loving Girls





In WE AWAKEN, Victoria meets a beautiful girl in her dreams that bears messages from her comatose brother.

What intrigued me: Asexuality and girl loving girls! Who could say no to that!

Dreamlike and Magical

WE AWAKEN stuns with an incredibly beautiful cover that absolutely suits what you'll find inside. The writing is atmospheric, lyrical, and makes this novel read like a fever dream. Lynne absolutely manages to immerse truly in this fantastically magical story and weaves a dreamy plot through sheer word artistry.

Protagonist Victoria is a lesbian asexual whose dream is to get into the Manhattan Dance Conservatory. After her brother and father get into a car accident, the only lifeline she has to her comatose brother is Ashlinn, the novel's equivalent to the sandman. Hearing that a novel features dream sequences usually makes me groan and quite possibly stop reading. But Lynne manages for some unknown reason to fascinate me; may it be for the artistic writing or the brilliance of the lovely girl/girl romance. 

The story sucks you in around the first time the two girls, Victoria and Ashlinn, meet and you'll soon find yourself frantically reading and reading until you'll get to see the two together again. Lynn e doesn't shy away from stating clearly and openly that this is the story of two girl loving asexuals falling in love. To some degree this is a coming out story, but not as much as it is a tale of self-discovery. 

A very quiet love story

WE AWAKEN is a very quiet YA love story. You won't find any dramatic plot twists or action-filled fight scenes in this. To some degree this is the reason why I'm not rating it five stars - I would've loved more plot, more action, more drama. The stakes are a little low, but the story is all the much more lovely and romantic. A sweet love story.

True to the theme, it reads like a dream, but never loses itself in that. Aside from the dream sequences, we get lots of scenes that will ground you in Victoria's reality without losing the magic of the meetings with Ashlinn. Lynne manages to tell a fascinating story with very minimal plot complication and delivers a stunning romance that you won't soon forget. WE AWAKEN will have you  long to meet your own keeper of dreams and fall madly in love like Victoria and Ashlinn.

Rating:


★★★★½☆

 



Overall: Do I Recommend?

WE AWAKEN is a beautifully dreamy story that I can only dearly recommend to lovers of dreamy writing, Gabrielle Zevin, and Maggie Stiefvater's books. If you like wonderfully magical novels that walk the tightrope between fever dream and reality, this is the pick for you.



Additional Info

Published: July 14th 2016
Pages: 180
Publisher: Harmony Ink Press
Genre: YA / Magical Realism
ISBN: 9781634769969

Buy from Harmony Ink

Synopsis:
"Victoria Dinham doesn’t have much left to look forward to. Since her father died in a car accident, she lives only to fulfill her dream of being accepted into the Manhattan Dance Conservatory. But soon she finds another reason to look forward to dreams when she encounters an otherworldly girl named Ashlinn, who bears a message from Victoria’s comatose brother. Ashlinn is tasked with conjuring pleasant dreams for humans, and through the course of their nightly meetings in Victoria’s mind, the two become close. Ashlinn also helps Victoria understand asexuality and realize that she, too, is asexual.

But then Victoria needs Ashlinn’s aid outside the realm of dreams, and Ashlinn assumes human form to help Victoria make it to her dance audition. They take the opportunity to explore New York City, their feelings for each other, and the nature of their shared asexuality. But like any dream, it’s too good to last. Ashlinn must shrug off her human guise and resume her duties creating pleasant nighttime visions—or all of humanity will pay the price.
 "(Source: Goodreads)


What's your favorite book about wlw?

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Wednesday, June 1, 2016

[ARC Review] The Neverland Wars - Audrey Greathouse: Peter Pan and Storytelling





In THE NEVERLAND WARS, Gwen realizes magic is real when her little sister gets abducted by the infamous Peter Pan and taken to Neverland.

What intrigued me: I have never read a Peter Pan retelling!

Yes to all the magic!

THE NEVERLAND WARS isn't your average Peter Pan retelling. There are lots of retellings that paint him as the bad guy, but here it's sort of not a matter of black and white - I love that about this novel. In THE NEVERLAND WARS, magic is real and an important part of modern-day society, for example technology works through magic instead of engineering, which I found quite neat and interesting to read about. 

Generally, there is a very magical feel about this, not because it's a fairy tale retelling, but because Greathouse has such an interesting writing style. I'd say this is definitely the biggest strength of THE NEVERLAND WARS. The writing instantly transports you into a world where magic is real and I 100% believed this and thought it fits nicely. However, I have to say that the writing probably won't be for everyone. It's very lyrical and flowery. It reads like a work of literary fiction with a younger target audience. Interesting though!

Off-pace and too little "Wars"

I think THE NEVERLAND WARS has a nice idea, but I don't think the execution of the story necessarily compliments that.
The blurb suggests that this is a typical YA love story with a dash of magic, while the title suggests that this is a straight up showdown in which the adults take revenge on Peter Pan. And boy would I have loved it if THE NEVERLAND WARS was just that. I think this novel isn't daring enough. It's too much retelling and exploring and too little fight, fight, fight. The pacing is off, the structure barely there - it's a pity because I really loved the idea!

A thing that I struggled a lot with is the pace. THE NEVERLAND WARS takes an insane amount of time until it actually takes off. Instead of starting with the abduction of Gwen's sister, we get a whopping 50-ish pages of backstory, mundane everyday high school life, that bored me so much that I thought about DNF-ing this if I wouldn't give every book 100 pages before doing so.


Rating:

★★☆☆

 



Overall: Do I Recommend?

THE NEVERLAND WARS wasn't my thing, I was hoping for more action. But this doesn't mean that you won't maybe like it, the writing is so nice that it's definitely worth a try.



Additional Info

Published: May 9th 2016
Pages: 302
Publisher: Clean Teen Publishing
Genre: YA / Magical Realism
ISBN: 9781634221719

Synopsis:
"Magic can do a lot—give you flight, show you mermaids, help you taste the stars, and… solve the budget crisis? That's what the grown-ups will do with it if they ever make it to Neverland to steal its magic and bring their children home.

However, Gwen doesn't know this. She's just a sixteen-year-old girl with a place on the debate team and a powerful crush on Jay, the soon-to-be homecoming king. She doesn't know her little sister could actually run away with Peter Pan, or that she might have to chase after her to bring her home safe. Gwen will find out though—and when she does, she'll discover she's in the middle of a looming war between Neverland and reality.

She'll be out of place as a teenager in Neverland, but she won't be the only one. Peter Pan's constant treks back to the mainland have slowly aged him into adolescence as well. Soon, Gwen will have to decide whether she's going to join impish, playful Peter in his fight for eternal youth… or if she's going to scramble back to reality in time for the homecoming dance."(Source: Goodreads)


Have you read Peter Pan retellings?

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Monday, January 18, 2016

[Review] Landline - Rainbow Rowell


In LANDLINE, Georgie McCool gets a chance to fix her failing marriage by talking to her husband's past self through a magical telephone.
What intrigued me: I read both FANGIRL and CARRY ON by her. Plus, a magical realism(ish) premise always hooks me.

This isn't as upbeat and fun as I expected it to be


Actually it's a terribly sad and depressing read about a marriage that's falling into pieces. The premise absolutely tricked me. I expected a mind-blowing super cute time travel romance story, but it's more of a poorly executed unbelievable and annoying pseudo romance story. Rowell mainly uses flashbacks to establish character relations, which throws you off the current plot every single time. I couldn't even concentrate on the non-existent story.

Even as a novel about a crumbling marriage, this doesn't work. The husband Neal is basically absent the whole novel and by making him such an unusual character, Rowell perfectly manages to create the most unlikable person I have ever read about. His lack of appealing physical appearance isn't even the least of the problems, he's an emotionless, mean and equally as oblivious as Georgie kind of person. Neither of them act like mature grown-ups. I felt like I was reading about oblivious teenagers that can't manage to actually talk about their problems. I didn't enjoy any of this at all.

Very unlikable protagonist & A confusing storyline!

Georgie McCool is a TV comedy writer and stuck in a marriage that's just not working out, but she refuses to realize this. When it's Christmas time, she decides to stay at home and work and let her husband go off to their grandma's alone. Just thinking about the fact that she did this, you don't even need to read the novel to know that Georgie is an unlikable character. 

She is a 37-year-old woman, but has no sense of reality, maturity or in general self-awareness whatsoever. She's completely oblivious to her surroundings and it actually physically hurts to have to read about her mess up her marriage more with every page. In her world, everything is fine though.

I had a hard time concentrating on what was actually going on, because there are so many flashbacks and narrative passages that don't really bring the story forward. It's generally a poorly paced novel. The premise is supposed to be the magical telephone, but until page hundred, the telephone isn't even used. I might as well could have skipped the first fifty pages or so and would have still had the same reading experience. 


Rating:

Overall: Do I Recommend?

I wish I hadn't read this. This is definitely the last Rowell novel for me. If you haven't read anything by her before, don't start with this one.


Synopsis:
"Georgie McCool knows her marriage is in trouble; it has been in trouble for a long time. She still loves her husband, Neal, and Neal still loves her, deeply — but that almost seems beside the point now.

Maybe that was always beside the point.

Two days before they’re supposed to visit Neal’s family in Omaha for Christmas, Georgie tells Neal that she can’t go. She’s a TV writer, and something’s come up on her show; she has to stay in Los Angeles. She knows that Neal will be upset with her — Neal is always a little upset with Georgie — but she doesn't expect him to pack up the kids and go home without her.

When her husband and the kids leave for the airport, Georgie wonders if she’s finally done it. If she’s ruined everything.

That night, Georgie discovers a way to communicate with Neal in the past. It’s not time travel, not exactly, but she feels like she’s been given an opportunity to fix her marriage before it starts...

Is that what she’s supposed to do?

Or would Georgie and Neal be better off if their marriage never happened?"
(Source: Goodreads)

Have you read any of Rainbow Rowell's other books?

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