Thursday, April 18, 2013

A review of "Maggot Moon" by Sally Gardner

The last dystopian novel I read was M.T. Anderson's Feed. This book is its polar opposite. Instead of being about a corporate run hell, it depicts a government run hell, and is as hopeful as that book was stomach-churningly depressing. It's about a kid named Standish who grows up in a version of Britain heavily implied to be run by Nazi Germany. Unlike Philip K. Dick's The Man in the High Castle which deals with  a similar scenario, it doesn't outright state that, though. Everything is implication in this novel, including Standish's homosexuality, and the identity of the so called "land of Croca-Colas" he dreams about.

The dystopia itself is made up of jumbled bits of other settings: the run-down, veddy British state of V for Vendetta, the Stalinist purges of 1984, and the Nazi run government of the aforementioned Man in the High Castle, but this isn't really the point of the story. It instead seeks to tell a simple story of the resilience of the human spirit in times of trouble, and on that level, it succeeds. The writing is darkly humorous, and also Dashiell Hammett-level laconic, and the chapters are concise, so there's no real padding. I wish the author did more with her setting, but that probably would have just served to slow it down. The unnecessarily graphic/gross illustrations might not have been needed, though, just saying. Over all, worth checking out.
Grade: B+

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