Cover Image: The Supreme Lie

The Supreme Lie

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Member Reviews

Thanks to NetGalley I got an advance experience of The Supreme Lie.
In this latest offering from Geraldine McCaughrean we follow events in fictional Afalia. Terrible flooding, and The Suprema - who is meant to be in charge - has run away. Determined to not unduly worry citizens, her husband comes up with an audacious plan for their housekeeper - sixteen year old Gloria - to impersonate The Suprema.
Following Gloria as she pretends to be a woman three times her age, we share her incredulity as we see evidence of corruption at every turn. Gloria, unshackled by the expectations of public service, is determined to try and help.
In this world, nothing is quite as it seems. 
Gloria is resourceful and well-meaning, and even shows that sometimes it’s possible to make a difference. Those around her show good and bad. I never really felt we got enough background to the situation/world of the book, and at times the pacing felt slow. My enjoyment of the book was marred by some of the typesetting issues of my ARC, which made sections of text quite incomprehensible.
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I really wasn't sure when I started reading this. It's totally not my kind of book but actually it's rather clever and very satirical.  A view of what actually could happen in real life and the way people just accept what the powers who be say without questioning.
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I absolutely loved this book. I found myself wanting to pick it up again and again for the quality of the writing, never mind the story of environmental disaster.

It has been raining for weeks and the river Furca, which runs past the ruling city of Praesto, has burst its banks, flooding many people upstream out of their villages. The Suprema of Praesto secretly runs away from the impending disaster, leaving her husband Timor, dog Daisy and fifteen year old maid, Gloria to fend for themselves. Timor makes Gloria impersonate the Suprema to maintain order, but Timor finds that Gloria has a mind of her own as she grows into the role. 
An uncle-niece relationship develops between Timor and Gloria,  is unusual in a book for teens but a pleasure to watch.

Upstream we follow the fate of a dog called Heinz as he is separated from his family. Here is another unusual feature of this story as we get a doggy view of this changing world with smells and dangers that both Daisy and Heinz have to face. I loved this insight into the world and motivations that drive both dogs.

There are some twists towards the end of the story which have a message for humanity about our role in the environment.
I highly recommend this book for anyone who appreciates good writing and a good story.
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The Suprema (ruler)’s wife has gone AWOL. In Desperation, the Suprema persuades Gloria, her maid to impersonate his wife until she returns. Meanwhile the city is falling apart as the waters rise. All industry is shut down, turned to pumping out the water which threatens to swallow the city. This was a quirky look at power play and self-interests. Clever and funny, but not to heavy.
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The Supreme Lie is a fascinating and thought-provoking read. Given current events in the world, it's one of those that's slightly eerie to read.
A  welcome addition to the dystopian genre that will have wide appeal to both younger and older readers.
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I had high hopes for this after loving Geraldine McCaughrean’s Where the World Ends and, while WTWE is still my favourite, this certainly lived up to expectations; I loved the darkness of WTWE but for those who may have found it a little too dark, this provides a little more light relief and hope to balance out its heavier themes and events.

When a catastrophic flood hits Afalia and the Suprema (their Head of State) secretly flees, her maid Gloria is forced to step in and pretend to be her in order to cover it up.

With rising water levels, impossible choices deceitful politicians and an unhappy public, Gloria and Timor (the Suprema’s husband) must make some difficult and dangerous decisions which sees thousands of lives (their own included) at risk.

I loved the characters in this – they were without doubt its strongest feature for me. Gloria herself was a brilliant, believable main character who you couldn’t fail to empathise with and warm to. Her naivety and optimism were her strengths and a perfect tonic to the lies and treachery all around her.

The rest of the cast were fantastic too (I especially liked Timor) and the twists and doubts surrounding their actions, motives and intentions were very clever, with some truly despicable, though all too believable and familiar, villains.

Running alongside Gloria’s narrative is that of Clem, or more accurately Clem’s dog Heinz. Clem lives outside the capital; cut off and flooded out his family flee but are separated from his beloved dog Heinz, who we follow on his journey through the floodwater to reunite with his boy.

This was a really effective way of highlighting the damage and devastation caused by the freak rain and flooding, to both communities and to the natural world, which was so hard to read without a worrying air of ‘that could be us’ hanging over it.

Likewise, it served also to show the way those outside the capital were pretty much abandoned to their fates and left to look out for themselves (and each other). I won’t say much more here for risk of spoilers but the Rosies and were wonderful to read!

This was also a great way to provide that aforementioned light to balance out the dark. The use of both Clem’s dog, Heinz and Gloria’s dog, Daisy, was a great way to inject some hope, comfort and loyalty into a book otherwise filled with despair, discomfort and deception.

And their relationships with the children in the story was a heart-warming thing. Dog lovers everywhere will feel this in their hearts.

The use of newspaper reports throughout raised the very topical issue of ‘fake news’ and cleverly highlighted the way political agendas, and politicians themselves, can manipulate and manufacture what the public see and hear for their own gains or plans.

I loved the twist in the newspaper tale and the daily anagrams, and Keith Robinson has done a fantastic job of illustrating these articles, which feel real and perfectly in keeping with the rest of the book. They are a brilliant addition to the story.

Dark and darkly funny too, this is a sharp and witty social and political commentary that I thoroughly enjoyed – “Power tends to corrupt and absolute power corrupts absolutely” has never felt so true or so timely.
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I loved this unique and unusual, yet beautifully written book. It's such a thoughtful book, it’s a tale about truth, lies, friends, enemies and consequences of human actions. It’s quite slow to start, but worthwhile sticking to, as the pace picks up and by the last third you are completely addicted and need to know the outcome. Corruption, fake news, scheming , disinformation , this covers these very topical issues in a way that young readers and the more mature will find thought provoking, highly recommended 

Thanks to netgalley and the publisher for a free copy for an honest opinion
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Pertinent political dystopia.

So relevant, a young person's critique of society in the midst of natural disaster.

A country where the rain just won't stop. A city where the water needs to be kept out. A population who need leadership - and information.

Gloria works in the house of the ruler of Afalia, the Suprema. She presides over the politicians from behind a veil, her husband and dogs part of the background to her power and persona. Gloria observes the reaction of her mistress to the weather experts' predictions on the never-ending rain, and the Suprema's sudden decision to leave on the train out of the city.

But what about the factories? The workers? The water is relentless outside Praesto's walls, news from the countryside has stopped. Yet the newspapers continue to roll off the presses... And someone must continue to be in charge...

This becomes a very mature theme for young readers. The context keeps it relatable, with Gloria and other young people (and dogs) at the forefront of the story, observing the potential collapse of a society from the inside and even inside the seat of power. It's an insight into political machinations, into manipulation of language and the masses. It's almost a Junior 1984 at times.

I enjoyed the relationship that develops between Gloria and the Suprema's husband, readers won't know if they can trust him, what his intentions for his country are, or who to trust around them. An important lesson in critical thinking and considering intentions of those with power over us.

This gives readers a dark and sometimes sad look at what can happen in a national emergency, how some will step up and take charge, thinking of others, how others are unable to do this or even work against the common good for their own selfish ends.

I was honestly quite surprised at the level of maturity the author is requiring of her readers, having to watch quite disturbing and upsetting scenes - expect to see some child (labour) exploitation and scenes involving death (nothing graphic).

This will be best placed in the hands of a reader who has experience of persuasive language and who is able to understand that humans are not always well-intentioned.

For ages 10 and above.

With thanks to Netgalley for providing a sample reading copy.
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I wasn’t sure what to expect from this book as it is aimed at YA. I’m in my 40s and often enjoy a YA read but sadly just didn’t quite love it. 

The story did touch on some current issues such as environmental crisis and fake news. I did enjoy reading about  Daisy but that’s mostly because we have a golden retriever in our home.

Even though this one wasn’t for me I do think it will be a popular read. 

Thank you to #NetGalley for the copy in exchange for an honest review. #TheSupremeLie
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Thanks to NetGalley and the publisher for this ARC.

McCaughrean usually writes books based in the real world, so when I saw she'd written something vaguely fantastical I was intrigued. However, I was slightly disappointed by the end result. She touches on some important and highly relevant themes - fake news, nationalism, corruption, workers' rights - but the story never came together for me into a coherent whole and the characters seemed pretty two dimensional, as the plot was so driven that you never really got to spend time in their heads. Probably a good middle grade read but not challenging enough for anyone older.
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Geraldine McCaughrean has done it again! A wonderful story which is perfect for our times.
The book is mainly set in the fictional city of Praesto, Afalia which is governed by Madame Suprema. The city is suffering from extreme weather which is flooding surrounding lands and threatening the city. Madame Suprema can see that her rule is about to be threatened by this natural disaster and attempts to escape to safer ground, leaving her city abandoned and without a leader. However, her plans go awry and Suprema’s train leaves without her beloved dogs and her husband, who attempts to cover her absence by tutoring their young maid, Gloria, to ‘stand in’ as Suprema and continue to make decisions which effect the well-being of the city and the survival of its inhabitants. Gloria starts to realise that the truth is actually very different from the reality of the situation and you gradually watch her make decisions of her own which change lives and the very future of the city. Gloria’s story is interwoven with another narrative about a dog called Heinz who is separated from his owner Clem due to their home being washed away by the floods and the attempts of the dog to find his owner.
There are so many twists and turns in this narrative that it is dizzying. Increasingly, it becomes difficult to know who to believe and which characters to trust. The puzzle of the two narratives are drawn together through the front page revelations of ‘The Voice’ newspaper – read carefully and don’t believe everything it tells you!
This story is a modern reflection on the evils of power and mans’ desire to be all-powerful. It is also a wonderful example of humanity’s capacity to support, redeem and forgive. The vocabulary is ambitious and challenging – I learnt new things reading this! It is a read which has comedic moments along with heart-stopping action and shocking behaviour. Brilliant opportunities to discuss the rights and wrongs of political decisions and what it means to behave ethically. This book should be on the curriculum as there is so much you could do with it. Suitable for able Year 6 and above. Don’t miss reading this one!!
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The Supreme Lie is  a witty attack on the political era of Fake News perpetuated by governments to deceive their populace. In Afalia all is not what it seems. As climate disaster strikes, the floodwaters rise and the everyday lives of the people are upturned as they struggle to safe their city. However, the Supreme ruler Madame Suprema has fled leaving Afalia without their all powerful figurehead - step in Gloria. McCaughrean has created a wonderful world exposing the ripple effect of one 'white lie'. The examination of the motivations behind mistruth for  a noble purpose and a deliberate falsehood for personal gain are beautifully juxtaposed. The gentle exposure of the faith placed in those in positions of power is a timely reminder that we should all question the motivations of our Heads of State and really examine what we believe to be right. Brilliant
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The environmental themes of this book make it one that will appeal to a hugely diverse YA audience. Add in the mystery of a stand in head of state and so much action, this will captivate you from page 1.
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Genre: Young Adult | Dystopian | Fiction

Release Date: Expected 15th April 2021 



The Suprema of Afalia has fled the city. The entire city of Praesto is in imminent danger of flooding and destruction, and now their leader is gone. Left behind is her maid, her husband and her dog - and they may be the only ones who know the situation deeply enough to try and fix it. Convinced by Madame Supremas husband, her maid Gloria agrees to wear the Veil of the Suprema and pose as their leader - the city needs to believe they have a leader if they have any hope of surviving. 

Soon, the evacuation begins - pets are rounded up in the streets, the children are sent to safer places, businesses are closed and the politicans continue to do as they always have - lie. For Gloria, the answers are simple - do the right thing for the people. But she hasn't accounted for how just how corrupt and twisted the systems put in place to protect her really are. 

This book is technically Young Adult fiction, but The Supreme Lie covers so much that it's almost impossible to categorize. Just a teenager herself, Gloria is forced very quickly into a world she had no idea existed and the fate of everybody is very much in her hands. Her eyes are opened to the horrors and manipulations of the world she lives in and it's up to her to fix it. 

As we follow her journey as the new Suprema, we also get a first hand view of the broken city she is trying to protect through the eyes of a dog who lives in it's streets and sees everything. The narration was so uniquely engaging and vivid - each voice so distinct. 


Sharply witty, dark and wickedly clever - this was an uncomfortable close examination of human nature and definitely felt a little too real, with thinly veiled parallells to the world we are living in and the fictional world Gloria calls home. 


RATING: ⭐⭐⭐⭐


Thank you to Geraldine McCaughrean and Usbourne Publishing for an ARC in return for an honest review.
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This was overall a good and entertaining read for YA readers. It was a bit slow in the beginning but picked up in the second half. I do think that the chapters from Heinz's point of view wasn't necessary and made the story drag a little.

The mixed media format with the newspaper extracts was excellent. It blended into the story brilliantly and added a lot of context/plot. 

Gloria and Timor's relationship was adorable - really great dialogue between the two and you could really see their friendship grow. Myld was a very entertaining and surprising villain. 

The book handles some really serious and important topics in an accessible way which makes it perfect for secondary school children.
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In the fictional land of Afalia, the river is rising and the capital city of Praesto is in danger of flooding.  Faced with death and destruction, and somewhat light on big ideas, the country's leader - the Suprema - jumps a train and flees the city, leaving her maid, her dog and her husband to work things out for themselves.

The Suprema's husband persuades Gloria, the maid, to impersonate his wife until she returns. Around them, the city is falling apart and the people are being lied to. In a desperate attempt to keep the city from flooding, the workers at the city's most important factories - one makes spoons, another makes knives, and so on - have been locked in and forced to pump out the rising waters to protect the production equipment. Dogs and other pets are rounded up, children are sent away, politicians lie to the people and come up with devious plots to bomb local towns to protect their city.

As an allegory for our recent lockdown conditions, it's a fascinating attempt to show how power corrupts and how easy it is to lie to people in the middle of a major disaster. As a way of showing how people will vote for anything if they think it's going to protect them no matter the cost to others, it's intriguing.

As a side plot, we have a dog in search of his boy and his family and a small cast of other animals behaving generally much better than the people do.

I enjoy a bit of Young Adult reading every now and then and this fits firmly in that category. I'm not sure I loved it, especially as it seemed a bit repetitive and overly long in places, but I did enjoy it. I couldn't really warm to any of the characters - with the exception of the dogs - but I enjoyed the situation that the author created and the various political power plays. I also laughed at the concept of a city that only made cutlery and still thought it was enormously important to keep on doing it - spoons before people, knives ahead of society, forks against the law.

Thanks to Netgalley and the publishers for my copy.
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Floods are decimating the land of Afalia.  Madam Suprema, the decision maker has disappeared leaving Gloria, a teenager, forced to imitate her and lead the country through dangerous times.  Will Gloria lead in true Madame Suprema style, or will the information she learns mean Gloria needs to take a different path?  A quirky story punctuated with newspaper headlines, anagrams and the thoughts of some very important dogs...
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Gloria, a simple maid, finds herself impersonating Madame Suprema, the head of state during a major flood. Gloria and Timor, the suprema’s husband do not know where she is and panic when decisions need to be made over the state of emergency. Gloria tries to do her best for “her” people but she soon finds out that politics is both hard and corrupt.

This is not the usual sort of book I would pick up but I was really rather gripped by the whole story. I thoroughly enjoyed it, the world that was created and the story telling was so well done.
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I was not sure what to expect from this book, but by the end I really enjoyed it. 

Gloria is maid to the Head of State Madam Suprema, but when a flood comes which threatens the county Madam Suprema runs away and Gloria finds herself pretending to be her.

All areas of the country are affected but most of the action takes place in the main city.

The Supreme Lie looks at how people look at others that they see as different from them and how people of power can feed the fear.

A the end you are asking questioning what you know about what you hear and read and what the truth actually is.
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The rain will not stop. Floodwaters are rising. Closing the gates to protect the capital city of Afalia will cut its citizens off from families in the country abandoning them to their fate. There are hard decisions to be made but Afalia’s Head of State Madame Suprema hurriedly takes the last train out of the city and vanishes. To cover for her, her husband pushes a naive 15 year old housemaid into her place, disguised behind Madame’s trademark veil and red lipstick. Gloria can’t see why people don’t do the obviously right things and discovers that as the Suprema she can make them happen. A duel narrative follows Heinz, a dog from up-river as he searches for his lost family. Through him we see the destruction and death. Heinz knows what he needs to do but things are harder for Gloria and the Suprema’s husband Timor and the more they find out about what is really happening the harder their choices become.

I loved kind hearted straightforward Gloria and it was a pleasure to see Timor come out from the shadow of his abusive wife and reclaim his own life and opinions.

Geraldine McCaughrean is a double Carnegie Medal winner for a good reason – the vivid similes, metaphors and thought provoking lines bring her fantasy country to convincing life. The twists and turns of the plot will keep you reading, eager to see what will happen next. I’m still annoyed with myself that I failed to spot a clue hidden in plain sight.

An eco-thriller, a fantasy and a fable for our times. It’s a reminder that when someone throws a dead cat on the table you should look for what they are hoping you won’t see. That newspapers are not there just to tell us facts. That we should ask awkward questions about who is behind the scenes and what they want. Natural disasters are nobody’s fault but how you respond and what you do is what really matters.

For young people of 12+ ( a natural disaster does mean some death and destruction) and this would be a great choice for a reading group discussion.
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