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Maggot Moon by Sally Gardner

maggot moon

Maggot Moon by Sally Gardner

Maggot Moon is an intense what-if dystopian nightmare. Although it’s never explicitly said, 15-year old Standish Treadwell seems to be living in post-WWII if the Nazis had won the war. Standish lives in Zone 7 where the un-pure are forced to live, barely. Starving Zone 7 residents occasionally disappear after which the government refuses to acknowledge that they ever existed. Standish’s parents disappeared after moving to Zone 7. He knows they existed even if the government won’t admit it.

“Standish Treadwell. Can’t read, can’t write. Standish Treadwell isn’t bright.”

Standish is dyslexic (as is the author, Sally Gardner), and his eyes are two different colors: one blue, one brown. Although these two features alone make him an undesirable, he lives in Zone 7 for reasons that precede him. Another family comes to live with Standish and his grandfather, and they have a son, Hector, in the same grade as Standish. They go to school together where the strong minded Hector protects Standish from cruel beatings. Until Hector and his family vanish one day with no explanation.

Now Standish has no one to protect him at school at gets regular beatings from students and his teacher. One day when he’s being beaten by his teacher, Standish decides he’s had enough and punches Mr. Gunnell right in the jaw and off his feet. One small young boy who laughs too hard at the teacher’s misfortune gets the full force of Mr. Gunnell’s wrath as he beats the small boy to death in front of the rest of the class.

Standish knows he’s done for so he comes up with a crazy plan that just might allow him, his grandfather, and the tongue less moon man hiding in their cellar to escape Zone 7. His risky master plan involves finding Hector, a fake moon landing and mass graves.

Maggot Moon has 100 incredibly short chapters and is infused with illustrations of rats, maggots and flies in an almost flipbook fashion. The story isn’t told chronologically – the past, present and future are all mixed together. Even though some of the beatings are sickeningly intense, this book is poetic and haunting and highly recommended.

 

Reviewed by Annica-West End

 

Rampant by Diana Peterfreund

 

 

rampant

Rampart by Diana Peterfreund

A book about kick-butt girls devoting their lives to hunt giant killer unicorns definitely seems like a great read. But did Rampant by Diana Peterfreund really meet all the standards?

I’ll admit it, I took a gamble reading this book. The reviews were a mixed bag of devoted fans demanding a third book and people complaining that they had wasted their time. What did get me hooked was the promise of a main character who was a strong, independent heroine. Unfortunately, this was not that kind of book. Drop the idea of strong female leads living lives full of danger and replace it with a story about a whiny girl dating a “dreamy” boy she knows nothing about.

Meet Astrid, a girl with some serious romance issues and deep emotional turmoil. Most of the book was just Astrid running around complaining about her ancestor, Alexander the Great, (don’t worry, we’ll get to him) and secretly dating a “bad boy”. Giovanni, the boyfriend, had barely any development or interesting qualities. He just was there to occasionally offer advice or take Astrid out to dinner. Giovanni (and most of the other characters) were more plot devices than anything else. At least 80% of these characters were flat, cliché, and boring.

My biggest problem with this book was the history the author invented. Alexander the Great (long story short) had the goddess Diana show up at his birth. In order to avenge the deaths of her followers who were killed by unicorns, she blessed him with the ability to find and kill the giant killer unicorns. Great gift, right? Every one of his female ancestors would possess the gift as long as she reminded a virgin. Of course, Astrid and all of her friends at unicorn hunting school are somehow descended from this man, who had no heirs. Let’s not forget that Diana is also a Roman goddess in Alexander’s homeland of Macedonia, and ancient Greek kingdom. Whoops. Research, it matter.

Other than the weird historical side plots, the book was generally bland and boring plot. The writer did an OK job piecing this mess together, but I found the pacing made some parts hard to read over. Most of the book was just Astrid sitting with her cousin Philippa complaining about unicorn hunting while she could be spending her days exploring Rome. Did I mention unicorn school is located next to the Coliseum? And that’s she’s basically allowed to do whatever she wants when she’s not training?

Overall, I would not recommend this book. If you are looking for a teen romance novel with the slightest dash of fantasy, be my guest and try it. But if you are like me, and expecting a book about girls that are more interested in adventure than finding their man, I don’t recommend it.

 

Happy reading,

Laurel, CLP-Sheraden teen

 

 

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