If Nema can’t uncover a lost boy’s true identity in time they may never escape the sticky world he designed...
When Nema and her friends discover a hidden sugar-hooked society holding lost kids, they find their perfect world in danger. The strange, sticky place hides the truth about Nema’s missing brother, and a plot to destroy the free life she knows. But only they can reverse a code to prevent a rock candy robot invasion and rescue the captives. Fail and they might never make it back home.
Moojag is an award winning quirky, Alice-esque cli-fi adventure featuring diverse characters, set in the utopian ‘Real World’ of post-catastrophe 'Surrey Isles', Britain 2054, where neurodivergents live in harmony with nature and technology. A story about finding the strength to be your true self, for readers 10 years and up.
N.E. McMorran is a British-Cypriot autistic award-winning author, designer, and teacher who previously worked at the BBC, as researcher and photographer, taught in London nursery, primary and secondary schools, and later founded and directed the Cyprus magazine publishing company AccessArts Publications Ltd. She founded and directs the London based Spondylux Press run by autistic professionals to publish inclusive, neuorodiverse books by neurodivergent creatives.
The author's debut novel MOOJAG, which won the 2021 Nautilus Award, reflects her experiences growing up in a neurodiverse family, as a mother and educator, and through the journey to her late autism diagnosis. During the pandemic she worked with author/poet Peter Street on his childhood memoir: Goalkeeper. Her second novel, the Moojag sequel—Lost Memories, is out October 2023.
A wonderfully weird and whimsical story, but one with a grounded message that will resonate with neurodivergent readers.
The reader is first introduced to the Real World, where everyone wears a technologically-advanced jumpsuit that assists them with everyday life. Despite this, they live close to nature, spending lots of time outside and eating food they grow themselves.
However, this idyllic life is quickly thrown off kilter by the arrival of a stranger called Moojag. The three protagonists, Nema, Izzy, and Adam, discover the existence of a candy-coated underground world ruled by the villainous Conquips. Neurodivergent and disabled people are kept prisoner in this underworld and only Nema, Izzy, and Adam can free them and save their home.
I love that candy is such a sinister force in this story. It's a stark contrast to most fairy tales, save for Hansel and Gretel. And it makes sense. When fairy tales were first being written, most people did not have access to highly processed food. Now it's reversed: most people eat a large amount of highly processed food and rarely get the chance to eat anything natural.
Each character has a strong defining trait but is also multifaceted, and all are charming. The exception is the villains who I could not tell apart from one another, but it seems like the system is the villain moreso than the individuals, so it makes sense that they would blend together.
The villains are actually way more brutal than I expected. I appreciated this because that kind of bullying is something many autistic people will have experienced and will relate to, but it can also be upsetting for that reason.
However, there's another aspect of the story that helps keep things from getting too dark.
The main characters don't think twice about accommodating each other and the people they meet. Rarely is anyone short-tempered or frustrated. If someone is distracted they're gently nudged in the right direction. If someone is overwhelmed they're given time to calm down before being asked to speak. People meet each other halfway and try to speak in a way that everyone can understand. These aren't just one-off moments. They happen consistently. This should happen more often outside of fiction, and this book sets a great example.
I'd recommend this book to neurodivergent people of any age and their families. It's a fun, thought-provoking read.
MOOJAG and the Auticode Secret is a children’s book, but to me it felt like a children’s book that adults were meant to read. The refreshing setting of a post-apocalyptic world without immediate danger allowed for the representation of autism and neurodivergence in a way I had never seen before. It encourages neurodivergent children to embrace their identity, without ever being patronising. MOOJAG’s setting and context as “climate fiction,” while childlike and fun, is crucial to the plot’s work of framing the message that neurodiversity should be more than simply accommodated – it should be celebrated.
The book’s narrative of what it’s like to live as a neurodivergent child is accessible, but deeply profound. Much of this is because the story is so plot-driven. Instead of trying to educate the reader, it gives unparalleled insight into neurodivergent joy and struggle. This is a book for autistic children and adults alike to see themselves in and feel powerful. MOOJAG discusses sensitive topics such as the ableism and discrimination that neurodivergent people face, but this is never underplayed or overly hardhitting. I was really happy to see that neurotypes other than autism, such as ADHD, were considered, since they are often side-lined in media.
The characters have real agency that is never in spite of their neurodivergence, rather it is undoubtedly shaped by it, and is integral to the characters’ way of being. Every character recognises this and empowers their peers through it, even if those peers might struggle more. They are united in their quest to navigate an ableist world that wants them to feel broken. While autism and neurodivergence were absolutely the centre of the book, the characters were developed far beyond mainstream stereotypes of autism. Mainstream autistic fiction is oversaturated with older male savants, but in MOOJAG, the portrayal of a young autistic female main character is perfect. I don’t think representation this good could ever be seen outside of an own-voice perspective like Nema’s, and I’m confident that MOOJAG will pave the way for the neurodivergent representation we need and deserve.
Colourful and imaginative with a positive message about being different...
I don't think I've read a book quite like this one. 'Moojag and the Auitcode Secret' is a uniquely colourful blend of fantasy world meets the real subject of neurodivergence and represents it with a positive message about being different and that it's okay to be just that. The style in which N.E. McMorran tells this story fits nicely between that of Lewis Carroll and Roald Dahl while it is targeted to a younger audience but those with more adult eyes will enjoy this one too.
The story comes first as we are introduced to this near future 'Real World' and three friends who quickly meets a mysterious character known as 'Moojag'. Together they embark on an epic journey of discovery while realising there is a coming threat to the land in which they live. This quest takes them below ground to a place known as 'Gajoomdoom' - there are some new creative words here which is all part of the fun and the sweet colourful immersion. Throughout we gradually learn a subtle but important message, that being a positive definition of those who are neurodivergent. This makes for a wonderful lesson to readers about the awareness of autism and that some of us can be little different.
The pages seem to fly by and there even some great illustrations as these friends must find a way to rescue an important group who are held captive in this underground and sometimes sinister world. From football matches to castles and everything in between; it's fun, uniquely random, highly imaginative and carries not just an important message, but a brave one about acceptance. Those who are able to combine immersive story telling with a message like this story has deserves every ounce of credit for the work they have done.
A debut novel from N.E. McMorran, which would make a wonderful film. With amazing fantasy, lots of action and humour, McMorran has created a novel for children 10 years old and over, that adults can also enjoy with a smile. it has very interesting characters, and the story has a deeper meaning of equality. We find ourselves in a future world of peace and acceptance within a neurodevergent society, after having destroyed our present civilisation through exploitation, greed and naivety. But still there is this underground hidden world of suppression and exploitation of those who are different, because born different. The message is universal, one about human behaviour. This relic of our times in the underground has as captives - autistic teens brainwashed as not being good enough and their intelligence used for the destruction of the equalitarian neurodevergent world. Controlled are also a group of winged beings, called Pofs, who have come out of a failed DNA experiment, not a far fetched imagination. The main characters, Nema and her friends Izzy and Adam, are called in order to free those in the underground and stop the nasty governing Conqip from destroying the neurodivergent world… An adventure that captures the imagination. So if you like fantasy, are curious and adventurous, just read Moojag.
I received an advanced copy of this book in exchange for an honest review, and didn’t get to read the book until months later because of bad timing on my end.
I don’t normally read a lot of fiction, but this book was fantastic and WELL worth the wait. I really wish I would have read it sooner but then I might not have had the opportunity to have listened to the book on Audible – which was WONDERFULLY acted and played out.
Delightfully strange, a page turner for sure. I listened to the entire audio book in one sitting. Yes, it’s a book for young readers, but was also enjoyable for me as an adult.
This mystical and magical adventure, filled with wonder and whimsy, celebrates a futuristic world where neurodiversity is embraced, and has many great morals and life lessons weaved throughout.
A story that will resonate with neurodivergent readers, and neurotypicals alike. Highly recommended for young people wanting learn more about Neurodiversity and Autism.
This wonderfully weird middle grade cli-fi (climate fiction) adventure is a celebration of neurodiversity with an ever deeper message tied in. I don't read middle grade usually, but this was so much fun. I'd highly recommend it for both autistic & neurotypical kids, to learn more about neurodiversity!
Thanks to the author for sending me an ARC all the way from Europe! All opinions my own!
This book reminded me a bit of a dark but hopeful blend of Charlie and the Chocolate Factory and Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland. It’s strange and weird – in a very fun way, while equally touching upon very important topics that find a place in fiction not nearly often enough. The unique and outstanding humour as well as the serious undertone show how skilled the author is.
In the beginning of the book, we are introduced to a futuristic world that, for once, doesn’t feel like imminent danger is looming over the caracters. However, we soon learn that that feeling can be deceptive, and sometimes the true dangers are hidden underground. I had to get used to the world first, but it didn’t take long. In the ‘Real World’ (where the main characters live), everyone is wearing a super-cool, futuristic jumpsuit that is basically like an assistant for everyday life. However, despite their advanced technology, the world’s inhabitants still live a life that’s very close to nature, they grow their food themselves and spend a lot of time outside. Then, one day, the three friends Nema, Adam, and Izzy meet a very strange character, Moojag, and discover an underground world that’s filled with sweets and coats upon coats of sugar. It’s a world that couldn’t be more different to the world the three friends live in.
This underworld, so to speak, is ruled by an evil group of ‘Conqips,’ who keep disabled children prisoner. This is where the three friends come into play: only they can rescue them! The villains make their prisoners believe that they are – due to their ‘disablities’ – not good enough, while simultaneously using their intelligence to destroy the peaceful Real World above. But can Nema and Co. reverse the Auticode in time and free the children held prisoner underground, without becoming trapped in the too sweet, too sticky Wonka-esque underground world themselves?
I loved that I, as a non-autistic reader, got the chance to get an insight into what life is like for neurodivergent children. I didn’t feel as if I was reading an educational book, while still feeling like I learned a lot. I can imagine that both neurodivergent children as well as adults will be able to love and cherish this wonderfully colourful and different read. It was great to see that by using common prejudices, this book was able to show us that the children’s ‘difference’ (though, what is ‘normal,’ anyway?), is celebrated instead of condemned. Given that most of the characters are on the autistic spectrum, it was nice to see how they learn to embrace their own identity, and feel powerful and self-sufficient by being given agency by the author.
The characters are all multifaceted and different, you will find it easy to keep them apart (even though I had minor problems with some of the special names at first). While the ‘good’ charactera all have defining traits that make it easy to keep them apart, the villains become a blend of just BAD. Was that coincidental? I don’t think so. As much as this book was wonderfully easy to read, none of it felt coincidental, every line was deliberate and said what it was meant to say. I was surprised at first to find the villains to be so brutal. Given that they are actually evil though, that makes sense, and their presence and actions mirror the unjust way in which they are treating the neurodivergent characters.
It was refreshingly fun to see sugar as a source of evil here. While it is usually depicted as something colourful, tasty and nice, reminding us of pure and happy fairytale worlds, it is the opposite here, while natural, unprocessed, and home-grown foods are valued highly. This also makes the novel important in terms of ecology and nature.
This futuristic own-voice novel deals with many important issues that don’t get dealt with in fiction enough, and it underlines the importance of compassion, friendship, equality, and love. I highly recommend it to neurodivergent children and adults, as well as their families. It’s a very important, thought-provoking read that I enjoyed highly. By creating such a vivid and imaginative futuristic world with a wonderful spectrum of diverse characters, heroes and villains (that sometimes can come in the form of candy), the author shows her writing skills as well as her creativity. I am lucky to have discovered this wonderful novel and I can see this book becoming a hit with adult readers as much as with children – even if the latter may be the target audience at first glance.
5 stars from me (and at least a day of no sweets a week!).
I was provided with an advanced copy in exchange for an honest review.
Whilst promoted and intended to be a middle-grade/youth text, I implore readers of all ages to delve into this immensely imaginative realm crafted by debut author N.E McMorran. This own-voice text shines through its celebration of neurodivergent children -- particularly children within the spectrum, presenting a message of encouragement for neurodivergent readers and a call for empathy and understanding for neurotypical readers like myself.
With the main complication surrounding an underworld that suppresses and exploits the voices of disabled children, McMorran utilises this narrative to draw attention to a number of innate flaws within our contemporary society. This includes ableism and the lack of accomodation for neurodivergence in everyday spaces; the exponentially rising threat of climate change; the exploitation of individuals by capitalist industries and realms, amongst numerous other extremely relevant topics. The honest representation of these social issues within this book can emerge many meaningful discussions between the reader and those around them, regardless of whether they have read the text as well or not. For example, parents reading this novel with their children can create the opportunity for them to shed light and explore further on how our society marginalises, and, more truthfully, fails a variety of people within our society, such as neurodivergent people, equipping the next generation with early insight on injustice.
As a neurotypical non-autistic reader myself, this text invited me to learn more about what life is like for autistic children explored within such a vivid, futuristic, and captivating setting. The main set of characters have their own unique traits and personalities that draw you to want to learn more about them, cheering for them to thrive, flourish, and overcome adversity as the text progresses. I want to emphasise the strength of how author N.E McMorran utilises her own perspective and experiences of growing up within this novel to empower neurodivergent youth. With this text, the author breaks through stereotypical, one-dimensional stereotypes and notions of people on the spectrum to create a narrative that seeks real representations of real people and real, real, experiences. I hope that this novel creates a spark of more diverse and authentic representation alongside own-voices expression, and, in particular, I hope that this isn't the last we'll see from such a brilliant author.
This is by far one of the most unique and imaginative books I've read in a long time, massive Alice in Wonderland vibes with a sprinkling of Charlie and the Chocolate Factory, I absolutely loved it. It's great to read a book with authentic autistic characters, as opposed the same tired old stereotypes usually found in fiction. The understated humour in this book is fantastic, the author really is so skilled at writing nuanced, diverse characters and the sci-fi element to the story is so vivid and creative. Moojag and the Auticode Secret may well be a children's book, but I can see this story becoming a cult hit with adults.
Set in a post apocalyptic Britain; the Surrey Isles aka the Real World, in the year 2054, where neurodivergents live in harmony with nature. Here we are introduced to the three main characters, Nema, Izzy and Adam, who upon meeting a strange and mysterious character named Moojag, find themselves thrust ("thrust!" - Izzy) into the sinister, sticky-sugary, Wonka-esque underground world ruled by the 'Conquips' - evil villains holding autistic and disabled teens prisoner, conditioning them to believe they're not good enough, that they're less than whilst using them; their intelligence and skills to overthrow and destroy the peaceful and egalitarian Real World. Can Nema and her friends reverse the Auticode to find the truth about her missing brother and free the missing children without becoming trapped forever in the creepy, sticky underworld themselves?
Thank you so much, N.E. McMorran for gifting me a copy of Moojag and the Auticode Secret.
I received a free copy from the publisher in return for an honest review.
And I must say that I don't regret. It's a really fun, fast paced book. And most important: it has the best autism representation that I've ever seen. It's so nice to finally read something where autism is represented well and to read something where autism is seen as something positive is such a relief. The small autistic jokes made me giggle and I could connect with the main characters. There is also info about autism integrated into the story and some difficult words are also explained which made this book not only fun but also educational. The only bad things I can think about is that it was so fast paced that it was sometimes hard for me to follow, but that is more of a personal issue than a problem. And it is written in present tense which I know some people don't like but it didn't bother me at all. I'm very happy that I got to read this book and I think I'll reread it many times. I will recommend it to my friends as well.
Moojag and the Auticode Secret. Having a child with Autism (13yr) who loves reading with support. We thoroughly enjoyed reading this excellent book for children and no doubt for adults too! Already my son is re-reading it on his own such was the great story that the book narrates. An absolute unput downable book making you want to know what's going to happen next with amazing characters and with a sound ethical and views to accept everyone in society as how it should really be. My son thoroughly enjoyed the characters and the story. And was engrossed in the search for Nema's brother. Even he understood the meaning of the book of accepting others, and how, even though we may be different. Doesn't mean we can't all live together and share the world together. Fully recommend this book for children and adults too.
Firstly, I was reached out to by the lovely author of this book, who graciously sent me a free Advanced Reader Copy for me to review.
I want to start by saying that I am so so happy that this book exists. We desperately need more books like this! Especially with everything going on at the moment (I'm looking at you S.A.M). A wholesome, caring, own voice story, written specifically with the intention of celebrating autistic children is exactly what I wanted to read.
At no point in this book was autism equated to being a burden or missing a puzzle piece, only as unique individuals with skills and strengths that might not always be considered the norm. The descriptions and explanations behind the SuperAuts behaviours and reactions were refreshing: child friendly, realistic, and absolutely perfect for explaining how autism works to neurotypical children.
In addition to that, McMorran took it just that extra step further. Every autistic character was different. None of that stereotyped singular autistic person who doesn't understand the joke, hates socialising and can't read emotions. There was a whole range of representation of characteristics, expanding far beyond (but also including) all of the traits above.
Aside from this, there were other elements of the book I similarly adored: I loved the child friendly post-apocalyptic vibes that left space for questioning what exactly happened to the world we know now and ponder on why it might have changed? I loved the abundance of random but well integrated fun facts and learning points. I loved the inclusion of maps to give some imagery to the journey our characters go on, and the land they find. And I loved the love, empathy and care in McMorran words that shine through in every characters voice (besides our bad guys of course).
There were of course elements I liked less. And to best explain them, I think I should set the scene for you a little.
I described the feel of this story to my wife as a mix of Alice in Wonderland, Charlie and the Chocolate factory, and the Wizard of Oz (the latter of which is actually mentioned in the book itself). It is set in a post-apocalyptic world where society has changed immensely. The humans that are left (the Real Worlders) wear artificial skin suits called PIE that are basically super computers, helping them to control their temperature, search for information, know what they need to eat, sleep, and help reuse their waste products. But the best part, is that everyone is accepted for who they are, and diversity is the new norm.
I found that certain elements of the technology and Real Worlder language was difficult to follow at times, and often a little confusing for me. Although the world and concept itself was great to immerse myself in, I felt that it could have been explained a little clearer. It is written in a style that lets the reader pick up knowledge and understanding along the way (similar to the writing style of Alice in Wonderland which I also had a little trouble with), but in my opinion, a deeper, longer and fuller explanation of the world close to the beginning of the book would have been worthwhile, in order to fully immerse myself into this new world order, before then going off to explore another unfamiliar world with the main characters.
I also found the narrative a little tricky to follow. There is more than one narrator used to tell the story, which in some ways offers wonderful insights and information to the story that we would otherwise not necessarily know. However for me, it was just a little too much, and I got a bit tangled on occasion between which narrator was giving their insight when.
Overall, I think this book, and this author, have so much potential! I couldn't quite justify giving it a higher rating due to the difficulties I had with the narrative and reading, but the story itself is Great. The intention, morals, characters and imagination are all there, and I cannot wait to see what else McMorran creates in the future.
(I have received this novel from the publisher for an honest review.)
One day in the post-surge Real World of the Surrey Isles, Nema and her close friends Adam and Izzy are enjoying their day in the sun when a stranger pops into their lives much like the Cat In The Hat pops in on a rainy day. His name is Moojag and so starts a grand adventure in an underground world of candy stick robots, enslaved Auts, and corporate-like masters.
McMorran creates a world so fantastic that it has to tell the truth. Pulling inspiration from Baum, Seuss, and Carrol, McMorran creates a fun adventure for Nema not only to learn about her past but for the reader to understand autism. This book is advertised for 10 years and up, but it's perfect for adults in the weird.
I received an ARC of this book in exchange for an honest review. Moojag and the Auticode Secret is a lovely book, whimsical, gentle fantasy full of humour, kindness and hope. For myself, I loved the diversity and especially how sensitively and accurately autistic characters were portrayed. The author is also neurodiverse, and it shows, as the characters are so well-fleshed they practically jump out of the page! My (autistic) son also loved the book, and especially enjoyed the quirky humour and wordplay running through it. But don’t be mistaken, even though the story is funny, and hopeful, and really uplifting, there are some quite dark undertones there - Moojag and the Auticode reminded me of Ronald Dahl’s books. I really enjoyed this fast-paced read, and I would happily recommend it.
A strange, fun book that offers a look into a neurodivergent perspective in an absurd yet immersive way. While it is aimed at a younger audience, I thoroughly enjoyed reading it: its weirdness has its own logic to it that makes the world seem surprisingly real, and the characters are fun and - reading as an autistic person - relatable. If you or your child are a fan of out-there stories, then I can't recommend this enough.
Nema, Izzy and Adam inhabit a world after the Surge that’s nothing short of a rollercoaster ride of random encounters with strange characters, and where the boundaries between the inner and outer world become distinctly blurry. Moojag and the Auticode Secret breaks new ground with a psychedelic take on climate change fiction – or clifi as it’s better known – set in the upbeat yet inundated surroundings of the Surrey Isles, Hampstead Top and Box Hill Pier, where the post-Surgers make their way through a recycled minefield as they try to make sense of life, friendship and the new Real World. Beautifully illustrated throughout, this crazy adventure is brimming with vivid language to delight and engage young readers, and offers an imaginative and light-hearted perspective on autism and neuro-divergence. So grab your Spondylux and welcome to Gajoomdom!
Moojag and the Auticode Secret is a middle grade fantasy that feels like Douglas Adams meets Wizard of Oz. It's irreverent, playful, silly, and fast-paced, which should keep kids reading.
The most interesting part is the author's self-expression of neurodivergence. Neurotypical readers should approach the text with an open mind, as this is a valuable view into autism and neurodivergent thought processes. From the way scenes are sketched in, to the wordplay used throughout the characters' dialogue and thoughts, to the various physical habits and stimming---there is a lot of diversity on display. This can be a great tool for learning empathy. And for autistic readers, this is a chance to see themselves represented in the wide array of autistic characters that grace the pages.
The narrative is a little challenging to follow at times. Action beats leapfrog forward. Characters "appear" and disappear suddenly, with no explanation. The point of view shifts from first person to an omniscient external narrator who can read character's minds at will and who (rarely) can be perceived by some characters, and back to limited first. Zany villains are downright cruel, abusive, and grotesque---yet so incompetent, it's amazing they've not been overthrown. And the utopian civilizations themed around candy are charming but ludicrous. Still, the themes of acceptance of differences, equity, and found family provide a strong central core around which the characters pivot. There doesn't seem to be much character growth for the protagonists, who start off content and spend most of the book wading reluctantly through mysteries and odd tasks. At times, they bleed together in personality. Nema and Adam, however, are especially likeable, and Kitty is sweet and hapless and elicits pity.
The book zigzags around a surrealist world and plot, clearly intending a second volume. Kids will likely pick up on the nonsensical, onomatopoeia words like "gajoom" and may go springing around the house in search of sugary sweets after reading this adventure. I encourage readers to put on their Gajoomdom goggles and look at life from a different perspective---even if that perspective is sometimes upside-down like Moojag.
***Based on an ARC copy in exchange for an honest review***
Just last night finished reading MOOJAG. It’s a super book which I loved reading. It makes you want to go back and read it over and over. This is a futuristic, idealistic book that expresses equality, compassion, ethics, family values and encourages acceptance and love for all life forms. A story I am sure all will enjoy as much as I have.
A whimsical story with #ownvoices autism rep, temperature-changing skins that tell you when you're hungry, and giant robotic candy sticks. Kids and adults who like reading about strange worlds will enjoy this colorful fantasy.
‘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!
Moojag and the Auticode Secret is a middle grade fantasy novel written by an Actually Autistic author that centers around two main groups of Autistic youth. One group lives in a post 'surge' world where being neurodivergent is accepted, supported and celebrated. The other group has been trapped by a group of bad guys, who wants to take over the 'Real World' where the celebrated Autistic people live.
This is an immensely creative book. Lots of unique fantasy inspired ideas, around how one might support an Autistic person's mental and physical needs. They created a very interesting utopia type world with the 'Real World' for the happy Autistic people. I love seeing the imagination at work there.
There was a pretty wide range of Autistic representation here, including nonspeaking characters. It was very strong in it's pro-neurodiversity message, and how Autistic people should be supported to be their best selves. I also liked that it says Autistic people don't have to be the stereotype of just technology focused, like the media often portrays. So, as far as a book that celebrates being Autistic, this definitely has a clear message as far as that goes.
The biggest issue I had with this book was the focus on food and how it divides it into 'real food' aka 'good food' and 'fake food'. I am all about eating 'healthy' when you can, but considering how many Autistic people struggle with food aversions, and shame about eating, it was surprising to see a book focused on Autistic people have such a strong message about food. I feel like it has the potential to make people with food challenges feel bad about themselves.
The other thing that stood out to me as something that could have used editing, was multiple references about body size/shape that were on the negative side. The worst was the term 'man boobs', which is problematic on many levels including fatphobic and transphobic. I was pretty disappointed to see that included.
Hopefully, with some time and additional experience, the author can continue to create books that are positive Autistic representation with a few less problematic aspects. I will continue to keep my eye on what they do.
I have been invited to listen to the audio version of Mojang and the Auticode Secret, by N.E. McMorran, and I am totally committed to this story, and the characters. In this adventure, Nema and her friends live in 2054 where the neurodivergent live congruently with each other, technology and nature.
Nema and her friends are pulled into an adventure early on in the story, a race to find the truth about Nema’s brother, and the sugar-addicted society that threatens the "Real World" that she, and others like her, call home.
This book is perfect for autistics and neurodivergent folks of all types and ages. The author connects this cli-fi fantasy world to those of us in the community who are in search of some heroes who are like ourselves, wonderfully different.