This is a quirky, original adventure about friendship and loyalty, betrayal and trust, kindness and greed, told as Maggie’s vibrant narrative, with striking characters and a happy ending in which all siblings are equal.
The Middler is set in a 21st-century dystopian land called Fennis Wick, in the middle of a “Quiet War”. This world is enclosed by a twisted boundary, its people protected by Mayor Anderson from the dirty deceitful “wanderers” who roam outside the lines. She declares that the eldest child, deemed the warrior of each family, must be sent away to fight at the age of 14... I thought I’d almost reached my fill of dystopian novels, but Kirsty Applebaum has rebooted the genre. The plot pulls you along and I liked Maggie more and more as she grew in courage. There is a touch of Harper Lee’s Scout about her. One gripe: the pacing is a little out at the end. What should have been a dramatic rescue scene, the climax, is passed over and it finishes rather sharply. I could have done with another 20 pages.