Before I start reviewing this book, I have to say something about the cover artwork. Even without reading the blurb, I would pick this book up. I love it. Nosy Crow have been bringing out some exceptional gorgeous books of late, but without the beauty of the cover, the stories are outstanding. I literally would pick up a Nosy Crow book every time, because I know they will provide a five star read.
Anyway back to The Middler. Wow, what a book. I was completely surprised how this story turned out. I honestly didn't realise it was a dystopian setting, because it felt so real. The author captured normal family life and transported it to an alternative world. I think this might be the first middle grade dystopian novel I've ever come across.
The book is based around a young girl, called Maggie, who is the middle child in what seems to be a normal family. Only we discover that all the eldest children in her town are sent away on to fight in the Quiet War. The eldest children are treated like royalty, much to Maggie's annoyance. Her elder brother, Jed is about to leave, sending the family into turmoil.
Maggie is fed up of all the attention the elders get. She wants to be recognised for her talents too. As they prepare for Jed's departure, Maggie is befriended by a wanderer, who is considered dangerous to the town. Wanderers are families who refuse to send their eldest child away. Maggie is determined to be seen as brave and a town hero by delivering the wanderers to the mayor, but as with most stories, things don't always appear as they seem. I won't give you any spoilers, you will have to read it to find out what happens next.
I loved Maggie. The story is told completely in first person and I never got bored of hearing her thoughts and feelings. Sometimes when there is just one voice, it can make the writing feeling monotonous, but this was not the case with Maggie's story. I think the author captured the voice of an eleven year perfectly, keeping me entertained all the way through.
My favourite character in the book though wasn't Maggie, it was Trig, her little brother. He was adorable! The way he is so persistent and repeats things three times. Even at his tender age, he knows the difference between right and wrong.
I was completely absorbed in this plot. I actually finished the book in two days. I was rooting for Maggie all the way. She is an exceptional lead character, full of honour and bravery, putting her her own life at risk for the sake of others. Kids will love her. This is a great read and one I would definitely recommend for all primary school library. I look forward to reading whatever Kirsty Applebaum writes next.
* This book was gifted by the publisher for review.