Book Review: Maggot Moon by Sally Gardner

Book Review: Maggot Moon by Sally Gardner

Shelved: Young adult (science fiction)
Rating: ★★★★★
Buy: The Book Depository
More: Goodreads

When his best friend Hector is suddenly taken away, Standish Treadwell realises that it is up to him, his grandfather and a small band of rebels to confront and defeat the ever-present oppressive forces of the Motherland. Narrated against the backdrop of a ruthless regime determined to beat its enemies in the race to the moon, Maggot Moon is the stunning new novel from award-winning author Sally Gardner.

Imagine living in an alternative universe, but one eerily similar to Nazi Germany. Is this historical fantasy? Historical science fiction? It’s like nothing I’ve read before, but that’s the thrill of it. Standish Treadwell and his grandfather – Gramps – live in Zone Seven, where outcasts and political anarchists are sent. They have nothing except some scraps of food to get them through the winter and contraband television. We all know about Nazi Germany. But do the citizens in Maggot Moon fare the same?

Maggot Moon is an example of compelling, inventive and truly great storytelling. Although some chapters are only a mere half a page, by the end of the book you’ve become immersed in Standish’s world, and genuinely understand what he has gone through. And what he goes through is horrific. It’s a book you’ll finish the same day you pick it up. There is no need for overly long and detailed descriptions – Standish lives in a brutal, harsh place where people are blinded by propaganda. There’s no time for lyrics and poetry.

You see, Standish also has dyslexia, meaning that people underestimate him. (It also doesn’t help that he has one brown eye and one blue eye!). He’s intelligent yet perceived to have the mind of a young child, so he’s constantly running from bullies – students and teachers alike. And then there’s the soldiers – Greenflies – who are the eyes and ears of those at the top of the social ladder, making sure that everybody sticks to the rules. It’s set in bleak 1956 where the Motherland want to demonstrate ultimate supremacy and be the first nation to land on the moon. But Standish and Gramps have an inkling that something is not quite right, and are determined to reveal the truth.

Narrated by a unique voice and with a host of characters you cannot help but fight for, the brilliantly haunting and highly compelling Maggot Moon, winner of the 2012 Costa Children’s Book Award, is definitely one you won’t want to miss!

The first eight chapters are available to read here and you can find out more about the book on

The fascinating video below shows what it’s like to be dyslexic, from the iBook edition of Maggot Moon, out now.

Published: 30th August 2012 (UK) 13th February 2013 (US)
Publisher: Hot Key Books (UK) Candlewick (US)
Pages: 288
Source: Thank you Hot Key Books for providing this book for review!

7 thoughts on “Book Review: Maggot Moon by Sally Gardner

  1. I’ve only just received a copy of this book and I cannot wait to get started with it. I’ve heard such wonderful things!

  2. The Picture of Dorian Gray is my first read of the year, too. I am about 50% through. 🙂

  3. Ooppps, commented on the wrong post! Faulty Internet, sorry. By the way, I’d love to participate in your reading challenge, how do I go about it?

    • There isn’t really an official ‘joining’ process – just start reading! If you mean the classics challenge, I do not do anything special for that except mention in each review that it’s part of my challenge and I put an asterisk next to it on my challenge page, but if you mean the 50 Book Challenge you might find this post helpful.

  4. […] Maggot Moon by Sally Gardner Maggot Moon is an extremely quick read; it only took me a few hours to finish. This is partly due to the way it’s written, which is well thought-out and concise (and some of the chapters are only half a page!), but also because there’s a sense of urgency in the story, which ended up also having an effect on me. […]

  5. […] post. Earlier this year, I went to the Stoke Newington Literary Festival and attended the event for Maggot Moon. I had such an enjoyable time – Sally’s a wonderful person to listen to – and I loved […]

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