“It had struck me that the world was full of holes, holes which you could fall into, never to be seen again. I couldn't understand the difference between disappearance and death. Both seemed the same to me, both left holes. Holes in your heart holes in your life.”
Title: Maggot Moon
Author: Sally Gardner
Publisher: Hot Key Books
Source: Christmas gift
Buy it: Here
Standish Treadwell is wondering "what if". What if he had never kicked the football over the wall? What if his best friend Hector hadn't gone to get it? Would there still be moon men and disappearances? Would he have made it in his paper mache spaceship to planet Juniper after all?
Thinking about things, Standish realises that all he really needs to do is be the underdog that throws the stone at the giant. He is going to make a stand. Because nobody expects him to.
Right from the off, you get the feeling that Maggot Moon is no ordinary book. Prophetic illustrations litter the pages with an almost flip-book-like quality, the "fictional" dystopian world doesn't appear all that fictional on closer inspection, and conspiracies spell "truth" far too clearly.
I loved Maggot Moon for everyone of those qualities. A quick read (chapters are often only half a page long), Maggot Moon does not treat it's reader lightly. Heavy themes litter the fast-paced mystery, as echoes of Nazi Germany ring through the dystopian "Motherland", giving uncomfortable insight to what might have been, had the Third Reich prevailed. I found the first few chapters a little confusing as I tried to work out whether Maggot Moon was dystopian at all, or just wearing a disguise(!) but I soon settled into a "just go with it" stance, and was well rewarded for it.
Brutal events of the story are unflinchingly told through the two-coloured eyes of Standish Treadwell, the 15-year-old narrator who has seen people he loves disappear without a trace, kids beaten to death in he playground, and soldiers imposing strict rules to govern Zone 7.
It is Standish who gives Maggot Moon it's wonderful tone. Constantly underestimated due to suffering dyslexia, his teachers and many of his classmates consider him stupid. He is bullied by adults and children alike for being different, quiet and clueless. However, his best friend, Hector, his grandfather, and we as the reader know better. Standish is quietly mounting his own revolution. He wants change, and he wants to go to planet Juniper, which he and Hector discovered. He already has a space ship.
Standish's narration is full of imagination, truth and courage, and it is his quest for escape, paired against the Motherland's quest for a moon landing that leads to the books uplifting and, at the same time, heartbreaking, conclusion, rife with expose, horror, love and amazement.
Initial confusion gives way to a wondrous story of friendship and courage in Maggot Moon. Dystopian world-building opens gateways that are sometimes too close to reality for comfort amidst it's familiar construction, and makes the reader question just how much this story is based in fiction. I loved every minute of this quick and thought-fuelling read.
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Maggot Moon - review
Emma is a designer living in Bristol, UK. A self-confessed stationery addict, book lover and TV sci-fi geek, she enjoys sketching zombie-eyed women and finding her next source of inspiration in the pages on the bookshelf.