‘The more they had, the more they wanted, even when the stuff was no good for them. That’s why they were always thirsty and never satisfied.’
What’s Moojag supposed to be about?
The book description says Moojag is a cli-fi futuristic adventure about finding your true self, for readers over ten years, neurotypicals and neurodivergents alike. Moojag is a book that promises a different kind of world, where neurologically different people have harmony with the environment and they’ve found self-acceptance or … happiness. Moojag gives us an insight into the neurodivergent mind:
‘I might be silent or look like I’m doing nothing at all, but I’m actually very busy. We are all busy every moment of our life.’
‘But my words don’t make it out.’
‘I want to laugh, smile back even, but my face is, as usual, refusing to listen to my brain.’
Many reviewers have already commented on similarities to other children’s books such as Alice and Wonderland by Lewis Carroll and Charlie and the Chocolate Factory by Roald Dahl. Perhaps the Wizard of Oz could be added here also. So this is the sort of story you could expect to read, with a modern perspective on difference and acceptance.
The characters have environmental suits, which I found cool, and they’re friends with one another, but there is something missing and this drives the main character to go to Gajoomdom with her friends in search of answers. I did find the world peculiar and I liked this, and feel many children will like this also. Now, Gajoomdom is what the characters see as the past in their world but what many neurodivergents in our world see as the present, where ‘auts’ are only seen as being good for one thing: sat on a computer for hours on end with little emotional stimulation, in order to fix genius problems.
In this way Moojag, in my mind, was partly a message about the dangers of stereotypes, fitting people with labels in a box because it’s convenient for those in charge. But there is much more to Moojag, about the horrifying dangers of curing those who are different by experimenting on them, which tears apart families, leads to low self-esteem and can give the victims no clue as to how they fit in, so they stick out, subject to name calling and bullying.
How is Moojag different?
There is much humour, which I liked. I found the references to neurodivergent people, even just hearing the names and labels, to be endearing when used between them: Pof Pof, Kitty, Sparkles, Sparkly, Moojag, Gajooms. Sweets in Gajoomdom are used as temptations and greed, but perhaps less moralistically than in Roald Dahl’s works.
‘Then, there are the Super-Auts who created Gajooms and keep to themselves … And, of course, there are the Pofs who keep the place tip-top.’
I usually prefer books for an adult audience, which is why Moojag wasn’t my usual type of read, and I wasn’t the best person to review a children’s book. I enjoyed the characters’ speech and diverse characteristics. There were lots of characters and I couldn’t always get inside their heads, and in this way I felt the speech, the worldbuilding, and the messages in the story were more important than a single character’s point of view.
It was with fondness that I started reading Moojag, and the feeling remained. It’s a story about hope for our future, to show we don’t have to be shoved into a box believing we have little potential and that if we make use of our abilities and work together, especially from a young age, then we have much room to grow and change our world. Moojag was a lovely, inspiring book that may work wonders for imaginations young and old!