Sunday, 4 August 2013

Stand-Alone Sunday Review: Maggot Moon by Sally Gardner

Publisher - Hot Key Books
Publication Date - 3rd January 2013
Paperback - 280 pages
Genre - Young Adult Dystopian

Rating - 5 out of 5: It was amazing!

Reviewed by - Maddie

Book Info - When his best friend is suddenly taken away, Standish Treadwell realises that it is up to him, his grandfather and a small band of rebels to confront and defeat the ever present oppressive forces of The Motherland.

Friendship and trust inspire Standish to rise up against an oppressive regime and expose the truth about a planned moon landing in this original and spellbinding book.

My Thoughts - I’ve always thought Sally Gardner wrote differently and I think I have found out why.  She has had dyslexia for most of her life, not a life threatening problem but for a girl who loved stories it made her dreams of becoming an author seem impossible.  Of course, she fought past annoying teachers and patronising type fonts to write award winning children’s books like I, Coriander (can you tell I slightly obsess over her?).

Because of this, her characters like Standish from Maggot Moon look at life differently.  He lives by the rules and propaganda of a slowly imploding government regime called The Motherland.  The Motherland is trying to beat the ‘enemy’ by getting the first man on to the moon before the enemy can, even if they have to fake it.   We aren’t told much about the setting and time span but I’m guessing they are not more technologically advanced than the 1960s.  I have heard some say it is an alternative dystopian history of 1960s England.

Standish is resilient to this regime and so were his parents but after they were eradicated by the motherland, he went to live with his resourceful grandfather.  Standish’s friend Hector and his grandfather are now his only allies against his school bullies and the sinister motherland.

To most of Standish’s world he is useless because of his inability to read but to him and his few like minded friends his dyslexic mind is limitless.  Like Hector says, he’s like ‘a breeze in the park of the imagination’.  His dyslexia lets him write in short, piercing chapters with a fondness for colourful metaphors. 

There are also small illustrations on the margins of some pages showing a fly infestation of a rotting rat, yeah it’s yucky but it’s also intriguing.  I didn’t really fully understand this but friends tell me it reflects the fall of a totalitarian government (it’s more likely they just want to sound clever).

With a bright, inked cover this book looks like it was written for children or younger teenagers.  If I had read this book as a child with its dark themes it might have made me terrified for countless nights, not that I wouldn’t have enjoyed it.  People who complain about kids reading horror stories do not know about my brother’s dedication to the Goosebumps series.  Anyway...

I like how inclusive the cover and the drawings inside are.  A ten year old could be attracted to this book as could a sixteen year old.  Parents will probably hate that (there is some swearing and violence) but this is one of the few books trying to bring political dystopia to the children’s market.  The mysterious plot and unique narration completely sold this book to me.


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