Friday, November 9, 2012

Sharing Good Books: Nation

Nation - by Terry Pratchett
Alone on a desert island — everything and everyone he knows and loves has been washed away in a storm — Mau is the last surviving member of his nation. He’s completely alone — or so he thinks until he finds the ghost girl. She has no toes, wears strange lacy trousers like the grandfather bird, and gives him a stick that can make fire.
Daphne, sole survivor of the wreck of the Sweet Judy, almost immediately regrets trying to shoot the native boy. Thank goodness the powder was wet and the gun only produced a spark. She’s certain her father, distant cousin of the Royal family, will come and rescue her but it seems, for now, that all she has for company is the boy and the foul-mouthed ship’s parrot, until other survivors arrive to take refuge on the island. Together, Mau and Daphne discover some remarkable things (including how to milk a pig, and why spitting in beer is a good thing), and start to forge a new nation.

Encompassing themes of death and nationhood, Terry Pratchett’s new novel is, as can be expected, extremely funny, witty and wise. Mau’s ancestors have something to teach us all. Mau just wishes they would shut up about it and let him get on with saving everyone’s lives!


I bought this book while on vacation to read on the beach, and it was seriously the best purchase I made the whole week. Okay, except for butterbeer at The Wizarding World of Harry Potter. NOM.

It breaks my heart a little bit that books I've literally hated have higher ratings on Goodreads than NATION. Terry Pratchett is a master. This book? So, so good.   

Pratchett explores one of the biggest issues we grapple with as human beings, regardless of age. Faith. With his trademark humor and wit, Pratchett delves deep into themes of death, questioning faith, and what it means to truly belong. 

NATION went surprisingly deep. The viewpoint shifts between Mau and Daphne, and both voices are refreshing and really, really well handled. 

The world-building was fantastic. I really believed in Mau's Nation. The characterization, especially of secondary and minor characters, really underscores Pratchett's mastery of the craft. I felt like I knew and understood characters who had no more than a line or two. 

I get the feeling when people say 'beach book' that this isn't what they mean. But NATION was the definitive beach book for me. It was humorous, deep, and really made me stop and think throughout. I'm pretty sure I cried at the end, too. I was fully immersed, and reading this book on the beach only heightened the 'island' experience. 

If you like smart, funny books, I can promise you that you will love this book. It's so good. I wanted a different ending, but that's just because I've read too many romance novels and always want the perfect happy ending tied up in a bow, even if it's not the right ending for the book. Even if it's not the ending I wanted, the ending I got was the perfect one for the book. Pratchett didn't pull any punches and didn't cheapen the writing by giving readers what they think they want instead of what they need.

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