Showing posts with label space ship. Show all posts
Showing posts with label space ship. 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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Tuesday, July 12, 2016

[Review] Alight (Generations #2) - Scott Sigler: Mayan Culture and New Planets




In ALIGHT, the Birthday Children have arrived at planet Omeyocan and are exploring it.

What intrigued me: I absolutely loved the first book ALIVE.

Solid pace and jungle adventures

What initially fascinated me with the predecessor was definitely the mystery. In ALIVE, we don't get answers until the very end, which sort of made me forgive that the book had a very dragging middle and little plot.

ALIGHT follows a similar formula: We have to wait for every bit of information to make sense, so despite the fact that there's lots of exploration and action, it still feels dragged out. You really have to be patient to get to the interesting parts of the story, which are indeed quite fascinating, but the mere fact that it takes a ridiculous time to get there frustrated me immensely.

Omeyocan is a very interesting setting and managed to fascinate me. I was a little frustrated with the characters' lack of information and didn't really like the little guessing games that arose every time they encountered something they didn't immediately recognize. Omeyocan is based in Mayan culture appearance-wise, which is to be expected if you take a look at names like Xolotl. Called that one! I was hoping for more of an alien feel to the whole planet. Like this, it just feels like your average Mayan-inspired jungle with a hint of modern technology.

All the little nods to colonialism somehow give this book a cautionary tale kind of feel. Especially with Aramovsky and his neverending missionary crusade I got tired of it very quickly.

Sigler didn't quite manage to keep my interest in this sequel. I was hoping for more information and reasons very early on, maybe a big revelation or something. Though the change in scenery is quite neat, it can't hide the fact that there isn't really much plot in this.

Too many characters and a very forced romance

As for the characters - there still are too many. I couldn't keep up with them in the first novel, and has tremendous problems remembering these people and trying to figure the relationships out. It hasn't even been that long since I read ALIVE and if it weren't for the little information dumps before each character gets introduced anew, I would have been completely lost. 

ALIGHT focuses a little more on the dreaded love triangle and I just couldn't warm up to it. There is little to no real reason why these people are attracted to each other - aside maybe from superficiality and hormones. There is no base for their relationship, which just couldn't make me sympathize with Bishop and Em as a couple, even less with her and O'Malley. Honestly, I wouldn't even have minded all that if Em was an LGBT protagonist. I will never understand books in which societal norms don't exist, yet everyone turns out to be straight.


Rating:

★★☆☆

 



Overall: Do I Recommend?

ALIGHT didn't have me hold my breath and frantically turn the pages like the predecessor, but it's a solid read. A typical second book that lowered my enthusiasm for the third, mainly because it's just too heavy on the instant hump romance.



Additional Info

Published: April 5th 2016
Pages: 448
Publisher: Del Rey
Genre: YA / Sci-Fi / Space and other Planets
ISBN: 9780553393156

Synopsis:
"Alight reveals to readers the further adventures of Em, Spingate, O’Malley, Bishop, and the other young heroes introduced in Alive. In Alive, Em fought to assert herself as leader and her friends tried to comprehend their own mysterious identity; now she must wrestle not with the challenge of winning power but the grave responsibility of having assumed it, and she and her friends must contend with a grim fact: the revelation of their identity is not an answer but another question—and one with terrifying implications."
(Source: Goodreads)


Do you like books set on other planets?

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