Nation by Terry Pratchett - Book Review

I’ve read a quite a few Terry Pratchett novels and Good Omens, co-written with Neil Gaiman, is a personal favorite so I was excited to read Pratchett’s new novel, Nation. The story is standard Pratchett fare with humor and lofty ideals as common cohorts; yet, this one seems a bit heavier handed and I couldn’t help thinking Pratchett’s recent Alzheimer’s diagnosis was guiding his hand.

Nation is an alternate universe story of Mau, a young man on the cusp of manhood, and Daphne, a young girl stranded on Mau’s island. They meet after a giant tidal wave kills the members of shipwrecked Daphne’s English vessel and Mau’s island tribal-like nation. As a side note, the world is in a state of upheaval with many having succumbed to a plague. Gradually Daphne and Mau march toward maturity and form a new nation, but not without having first grappled with themes of religion, faith, cultural identity, prejudice and most core belief systems. The story itself is told in standard adventure style, but it hides a much deeper lining.

Nation is a valuable addition to the dystopia/utopia & alternate universe genres. The story of rebuilding a nation after devastating loss is easily comparable to current world events. This will prove valuable for educators who wish to use Nation as a jumping off point for current history, cultural or political discussions. And though Nation has been categorized young adult, I suspect many adults will take pleasure in it also.

I found Pratchett’s resistance to steer the romantic nuances in a different direction especially refreshing, leaving the idea that men and woman can form true friendships and lasting bonds without all the lovey-dovey folly associated with many young adult novels. I continually pictured Pratchett imagining a tsunami or plague overtaking the Western World and wiping out all the bad. If the ending chapter were to stand alone as a thesis on the soul of mankind, it’d form a very good nation, indeed.

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Genre: Science Fiction. Age: Young Adult. Pages: 300.

Themes: Determination, Serious Themes, Coming of Age, Strength of Character

Publisher: Doubleday. Date: September 2008.
ISBN-10: 0385613709 / ISBN-13: 978-0385613705

Buy Nation Here

Read more about on the Harper Collins site

Washington Post review

Boing Boing Review

Terry Pratchett talks about Nation:

One of Britain's most beloved writers, Terry Pratchett has sold more than fifty-five million copies of his books and has been awarded the prestigious Carnegie Medal. He was appointed Officer of the British Order in 1998 and knighted in 2009 for his services to literature. Most Pratchett fans know he has a thing for big, black hats. His website is filled with interesting facts and fun. There's even more on his books site.
© 2008 Cheryl Vanatti for

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