So okay, I had no idea what Maggot Moon
was about before I started reading it. I just knew people liked it a lot. So as I was reading I kept wondering how much of it was based on real history. I mean, it certainly sounds like Standish is living in a Soviet occupied country. But I was reading it in the middle of the woods on a mountain with no data service for miles, so I just had to finish the book instead. And while it becomes apparent that the Motherland is not exactly the Soviet Union (the president is female, for one), it's so close I think this book really does something for the genre. I mean, dystopic fiction got its start because lots of that crazy totalitarian stuff was really happening in communist and fascist countries. It still
happens in places like North Korea, but I don't think people really think of it that way. They see this new crop of YA dystopia as futuristic speculation, as cautionary tales maybe, as alarmist even. But Sally Gardner takes her story and sets in the past, in a place so startlingly recognizable you can't ignore it. These terrible things, they REALLY HAPPEN.
But that's not all! Standish is such a great character. He is well-drawn, intelligent and brave and also dyslexic. The story is crafted in this fantastic loop, and it's complemented by these disturbing illustrations of a fly's life cycle, including the rat whose poisoned corpse becomes the home for growing maggots.
This is some serious, complex storytelling. You should read it.