As a story-teller Sally Gardner is unsurpassed. Her new novel Maggot Moon is as they say ‘something else.’ I like books that look extremely promising for the first few pages, only to notch up the level of promise higher still as you read.
Set in 1956 Maggot Moon feels as if it could have been written then as well. It fits right in with the classic books we used to read a few decades ago, except we thought they were all depicting a rather terrible future. In Maggot Moon we look back to what was, and it’s real.
Standish Treadwell ‘can’t read, can’t write and isn’t very bright.’ And still Standish is one of the most fantastic heroes I have ever come across. He is no fool, and once he’s found a friend in Hector he is completely fine. Except Hector disappears. The Motherland keeps tabs on what everyone does, and Hector saw something he shouldn’t have.
The Motherland is sending men to the moon, and somehow this seems so wrong that Standish knows he has to do something to stop them. And you don’t need to be able to read and write to do that. Standish has his grandfather and together they are strong and brave.
Maggot Moon is a relatively short book, consisting of many short and easy to read chapters. I am assuming it is meant to be dyslexia friendly, both in the way it is presented, and the way Standish is the perfect dyslexic hero. (The Motherland doesn’t tolerate those who are different.)
It is not in the slightest way childish or simple. Life in the Motherland is cruel and hard, and few people in opposition remain alive and well for any length of time. Standish understands the dangers, and he acts nobly and with tremendous courage.
There is so much love and friendship in this story, making you feel good despite the bleak outlook. Not for the fainthearted, but it’s also a book not to be missed.
I was both sad and furious when it ended.