by Sally Gardner (Author)
Sally Gardner’s Maggot Moon is a melting pot of conspiracies, smoke screens and possibilities, all of which centre around a great ‘what if’ moment from history – namely, what if the Allies didn’t win World War II? The book’s protagonist, Standish Treadwell, never specifies where ‘the Motherland’ is, and could be suffering under any regime, but the doubts form a backdrop that leaves us as desperate for truth as Standish.
Standish lives alone with Grandfather in the dilapidated Zone 7. Despite his different coloured eyes and his dyslexia marking him out as stupid and impure, Standish is the only one who seems to realise that the upcoming moon landing is not all it seems. His friend Hector and his family have disappeared, there’s an astronaut hidden in the cellar and there are secrets on the other side of the wall. Standish is determined to know them, and let everyone know the truth.
Sally Gardner is a great advocate for dyslexia, and in Maggot Moon successfully shows that being dyslexic doesn’t make you flawed, but rather provides you with a different skill set. Standish is an instantly likeable character, and his intelligence, along with his courage and determination, is incontestable. A fantastically paced story, the reader is tantalisingly drip fed the puzzle pieces to the truth, intriguingly usually a step behind Standish. Gardner weaves an intricate backdrop of terrifying characters and incomprehensible rules to Standish’s life, and flashbacks only deepen the feeling of unease: this is the dystopian novel to challenge the best of the real life conspiracy theorists. A thrilling novel for early teens which deserves the many award wins and nominations it has received.