maggot moon

Maggot Moon by Sally Gardner

Standish Treadwell thinks differently than all of the others.  He can’t read and can’t write because the letters move around in front of his eyes, but he does come up with amazing thoughts.  That’s one of the reasons that he and his best friend Hector get along so well.  Hector sees past Standish’s different colored eyes and understands that Standish is really brilliant.  So when Hector disappears, Standish is left alone to be bullied.  It’s all because Hector went to the other side of the wall and saw what was happening there.  It’s a secret that the Motherland doesn’t want anyone to know about, but Standish starts to figure everything out when the Lush family is taken and the Moon Man appears.  This dark, violent novel shows us a bleak future where differences are stomped out but as Standish demonstrates are just as vital as they are today.

This is one of those novels that unfolds as you read it, layered and complex.  Science fiction set in the 1950s, readers will try to figure out where the book is set and how this happened.  Set in a totalitarian regime in what appears to be England where World War II ended very differently, this book is stark and tension filled.  Just the illustrations alone with the fly and the rat mark this as an unusual read. 

What I found most amazing about this book is that we are not just told that Standish thinks differently than others, we are shown it in his narrative voice.  The book is far from linear, journeying almost as a stream of consciousness through the past.  Standish will have readers themselves looking at the world through his eyes and what an accomplishment that is!

This book defies description by genre and really is impossible to summarize well.  Let me just say that it is powerful, brutal and set in bleakness but never far from hope.  Appropriate for ages 15-18.

Reviewed from library copy.