Review: Maggot Moon by Sally Gardner

Standish can’t read or write, even if he could he wouldn’t put his story down on paper. He’s not that stupid. He lives in Zone Seven, where everything is controlled by the Motherland, where the people are under constant surveillance and live in constant fear. When his best friend Hector disappears, Standish’s world is completely changed.  The Motherland is caught up in the mania surrounding the moon landing, but Standish and his grandfather know the truth. Standish is an unlikely hero, and as the story progresses he doesn’t just stand out, he stands up and fights for what is right.

With strong language, and strong violence this is definitely a hard-hitting read. It is powerful, showing the cruelty of the Motherland’s regime, and the repercussions for those who dare defy it. This was an uncomfortable and often upsetting read, but it is an important one. Ranging from brutal violence to beautiful tenderness, Standish’s story is very moving, and it is one that will stay with me.  The non-descript time and setting give the Motherland a frightening universality. The illustrations echo the sense of rot and decay beneath the Motherland’s surface. The short chapters, designed to appeal to dyslexic readers, give the story a punchy feel and makes its impact all the more powerful.  At times it is heart-breaking, painful to read…but ultimately it is a raw and real tale of friendship, courage and hope.

Review originally posted on in August 2012

Maggot Moon was the winner of the Costa Children’s Book Award 2012


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