Saturday, March 15, 2014

Maggot Moon, a Printz Honor Book, Got 2.5 Stars

Maggot Moon, a Printz Honor Book, about a dyslexic kid set in a surreal dystopian 1950s setting is bizarre, weird, and frustrating at times.  Alohamora Open a Book
Maggot Moon by Sally Gardner won a Printz Honor this year.  I checked it out b/c of it's Honor Award, and I kept reading it b/c it was so bizarre, unique, interesting, and frustrating.

I will say it is a fast read with extremely short chapters.  I think it being a fast read is the reason I kept reading it.

The reason I found myself so incredibly frustrated while reading Maggot Moon was b/c I couldn't figure out the setting of the book.  I'm pretty sure Sally Gardner was purposely vague with this.  The book has a dystopian like society set during the 1950s during the race to the moon.  It's so very vague, and maybe it is just me but it drove me bonkers.  

At times I thought the setting was Germany and then maybe the Soviet Union, but then I never knew for sure.  I just felt annoyed a bit b/c I saw hints to a specific society I knew, but there was never anything clear and obvious.

As far as content goes, it is gruesome at times with violence, there is language, and at a point two boys kiss.

I give Maggot Moon 2.5 out of 5 stars.  The story is alright, but I found it confusing.  Standish, the narrator, would tell the present story and then go back and tell several different back stories.  However, it took a while to figure out what parts of the story were where on the timeline of the story.  I didn't know what parts were the farthest back, what was most recent, and what was currently happening.  It was confusing and frustrating, and I was confused and frustrated throughout the book. 

On a positive note I liked the fast pace of the story, but I found it lacked the details to keep it from being frustrating for the reader and therefore left a bitter taste in my mouth.  I guess I just couldn't get past the gray confusion of it all. 

Basically, this weird story was unique, but I didn't appreciate the content or the confusing writing or aspects of the story.  For that reason I gave it 2.5 stars.  

Amazon had the following book review from School Library Journal: 

"Up-In a grimly surreal alternate 1950s, 15-year-old Standish Treadwell leads a bleak life under a totalitarian government reminiscent of World War II Germany and Cold War Soviet Union. Struggling with an unspecified learning disability, he doesn't fit in-he dreams of a land of Croca-Colas and plans an imaginary mission to planet Juniper with his best friend, Hector-until Hector and his family are abruptly taken away because they know too much about the government's machinations. Standish's quirky first-person voice and fragmented storytelling gradually reveal that the government is intent on winning a propaganda-filled space race and will go to any length, including a massive hoax, to appear victorious. The story borders on allegory, and the setting is deliberately vague. It is implied that the details that led to this dystopian society are not important; the crucial point is that Standish becomes determined that he, an individual, can take action against a cruel and powerful regime. With brief chapters and short sentences, the prose appears deceptively simple, but the challenging subject matter makes for a highly cerebral reading experience. Stomach-churning illustrations of flies, rats, and maggots accompany the text, creating a parallel graphical narrative that emphasizes key moments in the plot. Though its harsh setting and brutal violence may not appeal to those seeking a happy ending, the story's Orwellian overtones will fuel much speculation and discussion among readers."

I may not have loved that book, but you may have felt differently.  I'd love to hear any differing thoughts you may have.   

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