By Sally Gardner, published by Hot Key Books.
“What if the football hadn’t gone over the wall? What if Hector hadn’t gone looking for it? What if he hadn’t kept the dark secret to himself? What if…?
Then I suppose I would be telling myself another story. You see, the ‘What if’s’ are as boundless as the stars…”
Standish Treadwell is a dyslexic boy living in the Motherland, in the 1950’s. He’s the outcast at school; by teachers and students, and then HEctor moves in next door, who believes in Standish’s imaginary world, and loves him for who he is. One day, the two are kicking a football around, and when it goes over the wall, neither of them realises how much that is about to change their lives. They discover an astronaut- one who is meant to be in a rocket, flying to the moon, but actually, he’s run away. A dark secret is being kept by the Motherland… Their moon mission is a hoax.
When Hector and his parents are kidnapped and taken away because they know too much, Standish is determined to get them back, and show the world that the Motherland are lying, and putting scientists like Hector’s dad into slavery to win the race to the moon. Can Standish do both, and what will it cost?
After seeing this shortlisted for this year’s Carnegie Medal, I wanted to read it again, and relive the brilliant, and special story. I think I enjoyed it much more the second time around! Sally Gardner has executed this story perfectly, and I could see through Standish’s eyes so well. She has created such a wonderful, witty, and brave protagonist who has a very unique voice that is really thought-provoking. His narration was excellent, and, above all- so believable. He was such a well developed character and I was rooting for him throughout the book; when he was getting beaten up, when he snuck himself into the Palace to get Hector back- I have never wanted a character to win so much before! His rich imagination gave him such a determination throughout the book, and when he finally made it to the ‘Land of the Croca-Colas’ at the end, it brought a tear of happiness to my eye, despite the ending being heart-wrenchingly sad.
The plot was very thought-provoking. The whole tie-in with the moon landing being a hoax really drew me in: I’m really interested in that subject, so I became totally engrossed in this book! It had a really dystopian essence to it too, and I loved that so much. As for the setting- it was great. The Motherland is a figment of the author’s imagination, but it was scarily realistic. It mainly felt like America, with the whole moon-landing idea, but a lot of the names sounded kind of Russian, and it had that eerie strictness of Germany under the Nazi rule. The setting was shown really well through the writing.
So overall, this book was totally amazing. The writing style was very fun to read, with slight mix-ups of words by Standish, but I think that made it all the more believable and three-dimensional. With an extremely clever plot, shocking and scary scenes, and so much more packed into it, I’m sure Maggot Moon will win the Carnegie Medal!