I’m wondering what if.
Set in an alternative 1950s England, where the ‘Motherland’ has taken control of the country, Maggot Moon tells the story of Standish Treadwell. He’s not very bright and people underestimate him, but they shouldn’t. Constantly running from the bullies, Standish is about to uncover the biggest secret in his totalitarian world – a secret that will cause everyone to question the “truth”s they have been told.
I’ll admit that Maggot Moon isn’t the easiest novel to jump straight into, as the chapters are short snap shots, pieced together by a narrator whose reality is very different to our own. It took me a while to decipher what is what and who is who, which was slightly unsettling but once the novel gathers pace, you gain your bearings and a connection with the events and characters is built.
Gardner creates an atmospheric alternative-past where humanity is questioned and freedom suppressed. There are obvious influences taken from the history books – most notably from Nazi Germany and Cold War Russia and the main story arc even reflects the infamous Space Race. Standish is an innocent observer to his surroundings, having grown up with the Greenflies and abusive authoritarians, and his matter-of-fact descriptions of the world he lives in makes for very effective and raw reading material.
I found Maggot Moon to be a particularly affecting read but it came into its own upon reflection, when distance gave me time to really think about the content. I was genuinely astonished at how relevant it is to our world today. Comparisons and parallels can be drawn with the US goings on as fact and media manipulation drives the story of Maggot Moon, making it a perfect book for teacher’s to use in their classrooms to raise debate and discussion – especially for children who aren’t quite ready to read 1984.