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The Supreme Lie

Written by Geraldine McCaughrean

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The Supreme Lie Review

Adventure Stories Books of the Month Featured Books for 11+ readers Featured Books for 13+ readers Politics, Law, Philosophy & Ethics Science Fiction Star Books

Corruption, fake news and environmental disaster are at the centre of this darkly comic adventure

Longlisted for the UKLA Book Award 2022 ages 11-14 | May 2021 Book of the Month

Despite being set in the 1920’s in the imaginary country of Afalia, this stunning and inventive story, from twice Carnegie medal winning author McCaughrean, has powerful messages about the current state of politics, big business and environmental exploitation in our world and most loudly of all about the need for reliable and independent news sources. The story is partly revealed by facsimile newspaper cuttings and it is fascinating to see the progression from real information to manipulation of popular opinion by ruthless and deadly corrupt officials. Gloria, a naive 15-year-old maid to the Suprema, Alfalia’s ruler, is at the heart of the story. As flooding and disaster threaten to overwhelm the country, the Suprema runs away, and Gloria is inveigled by the Suprema’s husband into temporarily impersonating her. As they discover the full extent of the corruption and misinformation, they face an uphill battle to save lives and stand up for what is right. Meanwhile a second narrative follows the fate of people in the neglected North (in another real life parallel) and a dog’s epic quest to find his boy. The canine conversations are just one of the pleasures provided in this multi-layered narrative populated by such a vivid cast of characters and with so many twists and turns keeping the reader enthralled. Ultimately the novel demonstrates the resilience of man and nature and the ability of people to do the right thing given half a chance. This really is vintage McCaughrean and highly recommended.

As our Guest Editor on LoveReading4Kids, Geraldine McCaughrean tells us more about The Supreme Lie and her other brilliant novels.


Joy Court

Other Info

Geraldine says of The Supreme Lie, “Have you ever wondered, during the last year: ‘Are the Government telling us everything?’ ‘Are the papers trying to scare us?’ ‘Are they making things up?’ They’re probably not. But there have been times when statesmen told lies, when newspapers invented the facts, when promises were worthless and, as a result, a lot of people died. I read of one such scandal that took place in America in the 1920s, and I set about designing a fictional country where imminent danger threatens, panic is everywhere, and the truth is hard to come by.”

Anne Finnis, Fiction Deputy Director, Usborne says “Geraldine never ceases to surprise with her incredible imagination and ability to find a totally unique story to tell, and this blistering new novel is no exception. What remains constant in her writing however is her ability to create totally relatable characters, her complete and utter mastery of the English language, offering up some of the most glorious sentences I’ve ever read.”


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The Supreme Lie Synopsis

Multi award-winning author Geraldine McCaughrean has written her most timely and acutely prescient novel to date. The Supreme Lie, set in a world paralysed by natural disaster and dangerous politics, tackles contemporary themes about governments lying in the face of a disaster, how easily ordinary people can be manipulated through fear and how the media can be controlled to suit those in power.

Fifteen-year-old Gloria is maid to Afalia's tyrannical Head of State, Madame Suprema. When the country is hit by unprecedented flooding, Madame Suprema runs away, fearing she will be blamed for the crisis. To cover up this cowardly act, Gloria is made to step into Madame Suprema's shoes and is thrust into a world of corrupt and desperate politicians. As Gloria becomes aware of the forces toying with her every move, she must take decisions that could save, or end, thousands of lives - including her own... 

The Supreme Lie Reader Reviews

In addition to our Lovereading4Kids expert opinion some of our Reader Review Panel were also lucky enough to read and review this title. You can click here to read the full reviews.

An epic and twisting read set in a fictional world where disaster waits just outside the city walls. A smart, moving book with characters you can root for. Full review

Cassie Lawrence

This is a YA novel that defies description being a mix of adventure, dystopia and fantasy, and like many of McCaughrean’s novels is slightly bizarre and multifaceted; lots for the reader to think about and discuss with issues relevant to society today. Full review

Barbara Band

A brilliant book that made me chuckle and made me cry, and made me, more than ever, wish I owned a dog. Full review

Sarah Evans

McCaughrean weaves together an exciting political thriller, social commentary on climate change and dictatorship, and a darkly humorous tale of corruption and deception. And all completely accessible for KS3 readers.  Full review

Lauren Pennell

This is an awesome book filled with jaw dropping adventures, lies, and peril! I would recommend this book to anyone who likes an adventures read! Full review

Megan Brooks (Age 13)

Action packed, plot twisting, thought provoking, amazing read! This book will keep you guessing - Who can you trust? Can you trust what you read? 'In artamento non est vertias'. Full review

Sarah Rogers

While this is a thought-provoking satire for a teenage audience it is very much a story that has the hope of youth at its heart. The reader spends the book rooting for Gloria to succeed against the system and wondering if it is actually possible. Full review

Belinda Carvalho

The Supreme Lie Press Reviews

The mind of Geraldine McCaughrean is one of the great natural wonders of our universe. - Philip Reeve, author of Mortal Engines

A stunning new novel by one of our finest writers for the young. - Tim Bowler, author of River Boy

Unusual, compelling, ambitious; a visual feast of the imagination. - John McLay, Literary Scout

A vintage McCaughrean to savour! - Joy Court, UKLA & The School Librarian

Extraordinary, rich and wonderful! - Julia Green, author of The Children of Swallow Fell

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All versions of this book

ISBN: 9781474970686
Publication date: 15/04/2021
Publisher: Usborne Publishing Ltd
Format: Paperback

Book Information

ISBN: 9781474970686
Publication date: 15th April 2021
Author: Geraldine McCaughrean
Publisher: Usborne Publishing Ltd
Format: Paperback
Pagination: 416 pages
Suitable for: 11+ readers, 13+ readers
Genres: Adventure Stories, Politics & Law, Science Fiction
Recommendations: Books of the Month, Reviewed by Children, Star Books
Collections: Summer Reading 2021, Guest Editor, April 2021 - Geraldine McCaughrean, Best Children's Books of 2021,

About Geraldine McCaughrean

Geraldine McCaughrean is one of today's most successful and highly regarded children's authors. She has won the Carnegie Medal, the Whitbread Children's Book Award (three times), the Guardian Children's Fiction Prize, the Smarties Bronze Award (four times) and the Blue Peter Book of the Year Award. Geraldine lives in Berkshire with her husband, daughter and golden retriever, Daisy. Read more about the author here. Anne Fine on Geraldine McCaughrean: 'I reckon Geraldine McCaughrean knocks the socks off every other children's writer today. Everything she does is different and everything works – look at her list of prizes. She must write ...

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