Published: October 4th 2016 by HarperCollins
Format: Paperback, 320 pages
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The stunning sequel to Maria Dahvana Headley’s critically acclaimed Magonia tells the story of one girl who must make an impossible choice between two families, two homes—and two versions of herself.
Aza Ray is back on earth. Her boyfriend, Jason, is overjoyed. Her family is healed. She’s living a normal life, or as normal as it can be if you’ve spent the past year dying, waking up on a sky ship, and discovering that your song can change the world.
As in, not normal. Part of Aza still yearns for the clouds, no matter how much she loves the people on the ground.
When Jason’s paranoia over Aza’s safety causes him to make a terrible mistake, Aza finds herself a fugitive in Magonia, tasked with opposing her radical, bloodthirsty, recently escaped mother, Zal Quel, and her singing partner, Dai. She must travel to the edge of the world in search of a legendary weapon, the Flock, in a journey through fire and identity that will transform her forever.
Told in Maria Headley’s trademark John Green–meets–Neil Gaiman voice, Aerie is sure to satisfy the many readers who can’t wait to return to the spellbinding world of Magonia.
Remember how much I loved Magonia? I waxed lyrical about it, I forced it on my friends, I think I even recommended to it a stranger at my local Dymocks. The wait for Aerie has been agonising, but I finally got my hands on it last week. And it did not disappoint!
Told in dual point-of-view, Aerie takes up with Ava and Jason almost a year after Magonia. They’ve settled into some approximation of normalcy, but how normal can things be when one of you is a bird-hybrid alien and the other an anxiety ridden teen? In many ways, Aerie is the story of After: what happens after the Big Life Changing Event, what happens when the world returns to normal?
Ava and Jason deal with things in their own ways (including pi) and their characters continued to be amazing and interesting. But the stand-out for me was Eli. Brave, strong, amazing Eli who didn’t get enough page time. I wanted more. Despite the expanded glimpse into Zal’s past and her motivations, I think her story-arc would have been more compelling if she’d gotten more page time as well. Basically, I wanted a longer book! Unfortunately, Dai continued to underperform, coming into the story briefly to make Jason jealous before disappearing.
The writing – lush and vivid and poetic – might be exhausting for some readers but I thoroughly enjoyed it. It’s gorgeous and I think Headley’s unique delivery added to the experience of reading the book.
There’s not much I can say about the world-building without spoilers. The premise is the same — bird-people, song magic, crops — but the author expands on many things I found lacking in Magonia without overloading us with information. I’m particularly interested to see where the chosen careers of Ava and Jason’s mothers fits in and hope this will be covered in a sequel.
I enjoyed Aerie a lot. It’s different enough from Magonia that it doesn’t suffer from second-book syndrome but keeps true to the things I loved about the first instalment. I’ll be back for more (if there is more!) and recommend it to those who enjoyed Magonia or like Neil Gaiman’s works.