Terry Pratchett – Nation

19Apr10

Don’t you love Terry Pratchett books? I do, despite never having read any in my teenage years, and Nation, a non-Discworld story, is no exception. Set in an alternate universe (or a parallel universe, if you like), this is the story of a young boy (Mau) whose homecoming has been ruined by a massive tidal wave, which has completely destroyed his village. There are no survivors, but him; and then he meets another survivor – from a shipwreck. Daphne, a posh British girl, with some royal blood, who doesn’t speak the same language as Mau, nor is she accustomed to his kind of lifestyle.

As they try getting acquainted with one another, Pratchett exploits the humour surrounding language and cultural differences, keeping the reader thoroughly entertained; be it Daphne cooking for him, or him not realising what pointing a gun at him meant; be it the importance of trousers or the lack of clothes altogether.

As more people seek refuge in the ‘Nation’, the tone of the book changes. The humour remains, but the book takes a more philosophical turn, exploring ideas of nontheism, as Mau’s faith gradually evolves – from hating the gods for taking away the Nation to figuring out the importance of belief. As the two children grow up gradually, the nature of responsibilities they take on, for both – themselves and the people on the island – increases. Mau leads the people as they look for answers, while Daphne learns about breastfeeding, child-bearing and looking after the children of the other women on the island.

I did enjoy this book, despite the last chapter tying things up all too neatly. At the same time, it’s important to remember that this is a young adult book, so that should not be surprising.

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14 Responses to “Terry Pratchett – Nation”

  1. I adored Nation but agree that the last chapter was too neat (and rushed/busy, I thought). The book also has one of my all-time favourite book quotes:

    “Someone had to eat the first oyster, you know. Someone looked at half a shell of snot and was brave”.

    • Oh, I love that quote. My favourite quote remains a Marx one: Time flies like an arrow, fruit flies like a banana. Probably a little less meaningful, but I do love the quote.

  2. I loved this book, but I can see what you mean about the last chapter. I think it was done quite neatly as well, but not in a way that disappointed me, exactly. Just “Oh, I wish there was SOMETHING left open.”

    • I know what you mean – I guess it comes with the territory, i.e. the target group for the story. Oh well… it was an amazing story.

  3. I actually absolutely loved the last chapter – I thought it was perfect. But this is my favourite Terry Pratchett book and one of my favourite books ever, so yes, you can call me biased ;)

  4. This was the first Terry Pratchett book I’ve ever read and I loved it!

  5. I loved this book too. I think this is one of the ones he’ll always be remembered for because it’s so simple, but so deep. Still a year after reading it I find myself thinking ‘Does not happen’ when I need a bit of determination.

    I’m a last chapter lover like Nymeth. I think it means a lot to me as a long, long time Pratchett fan because that final chapter is so much about him – his views of religion, storytelling and happy endings. I know all his books show his own views, but this felt really personal and raw.

    • I haven’t read enough Pratchett, unfortunately, and don’t really know that much about him. I read my first Pratchett last year, and I’m still easing into his world.

      I love the comment you made about “does not happen” – it’s so apt!

  6. I’m not a huge discworld fan (yet) but Nation intrigues me and is sitting on my shelf… when oh when will I get to it? :-) Glad you enjoyed it!

  7. 13 Jo

    I have this sat on the library pile at the moment, despite not being a pratchett fan at all really. But then I haven’t attempted him since my teens(when I didn’t manage to finish one), so maybe this will be the one I make it through! I hope so, it sounds good.

    • Hope this book changes your mind about Pratchett. One bad experience with an author might be just that… one bad experience. Well, sometimes, it’s been like that for me!

      Wonder which book you didn’t finish?


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