13 June 2015
Author: Maria Dahvana Headley
Rating: 3 / 5 stars
Meet Aza Ray. She is a typical teenager apart from her rare disease that is thus named after her. She has a difficult time breathing, and has spent her life in and out of hospitals. According to doctors' best estimates, she should have died years ago, but here she still is, sometimes struggling, but still alive.
The first portion of this novel isn't all that bad. If fact, it is actually quite gripping early on, and I even found myself tearing up at one point. Headley definitely has a talent for writing contemporary young adult, even if Aza's quirky and offbeat prose can sometimes stretch things just a tad too far. But the cuteness and delicacy in the relationship between Aza and Jason is adorkable, and even Aza's relationship with her family is well done.
It is, a bit ironically, the Magonia portion of this novel that just a little too weird for my taste. I think my fundamental issue is that the first portion of this novel is highly realistic, and then the remainder of it is so fantastical that any realism I felt in the beginning part evaporated. Towards the latter portion of the book, I found Aza more and more difficult to relate to, and yet Jason, surprisingly, grew on me as he was the only part of the book that still felt real.
The way Headley wove the realism and the fantasy together just doesn't sit well for me. It is still a well written novel, don't get me wrong. And the plot is entertaining and unique for sure. But the two halves just don't quite make the perfect whole for me at the conclusion of the story.