Book Reviews: Nation

Monday, November 15, 2010

by Terry Pratchett

This was my first experience with Pratchett and it will not be my last. After hearing about him for years, I decided I just had to read something of his. Nymeth at Things Mean A Lot is a big Pratchett fan and was kind enough to suggest Nation as a good place to start.

It took me a minute to get into the book. I wasn’t sure what to expect and at first I wasn’t sure what to make of the story. It centers on Maw, the only survivor of the Nation, which is destroyed by a tsunami. He is left alone, disconnected from all he has ever known and he’s at once filled with grief, confusion and anger. He turns to the Nation’s gods for answers and is left feeling more lost than ever.

The plot really picks up when we meet Daphne (really Ermintrude, but she hates that name, so she says her name is Daphne.) She is a British girl whose ship has crashed on the island. Her relationship with Maw reminded me so much of Peter Pan and Wendy. She’s prim and proper at first and he is baffled by her ways, but soon they find a balance and develop a wonderful friendship.

The best parts of the book, for me, were the interactions between those two. Once they moved past their initial impressions they realized they could learn so much from one another. I also loved seeing Daphne gain confidence in herself. She was such a great character; part girl, part woman, trying to come to terms with her own grief and grow up at the same time.

With absolutely no spoilers included I do want to say how much I loved the ending. The characters grew on me throughout the book and by the end I felt so invested in them. The ending definitely increased my rating of the book and my overall love of it. So if it feels slow at first, definitely give it time.

I have to say I was really impressed with Pratchett. He has a similar writing style to Neil Gaiman (whom I adore) and the delightful sense of humor of Douglas Adams. So clearly he’s destined to become a favorite. He also manages to balance humor and a deeper message, which I really value in an author. I think that can be a hard thing to accomplish and he seemed to do it effortlessly. At first I didn’t even realize he had slipped such important issues into the fold of the story, but once I did I was really moved by the points-of-view he brings up. I’m looking forward to trying out his Discworld series, which I’ve heard is great. Any other Pratchett suggestions from fans of his out there?

Here's another great review at Chasing Bawa.


Shelley said...

I loved this book, too. I dont' even remember how it ended, though, so I must be due to read it again.

Ana S. said...

I'm so glad you enjoyed it! Neil Gaiman and Douglas Adams are definitely apt comparisons. As for where to go next, I think Small Gods or The Wee Free Men would be great introductions to Discworld.

Melissa (Avid Reader) said...

Nymeth - Thank you! Those are going on the TBR list.

Natalie~Coffee and a Book Chick said...

What a great review! I've not heard of this book before, so now I've got to put it on my list!!

Becky Hill said...

I am a HUGE fan of apocalyptic and post apoc fiction. If you like dystopian novels I can send you my article written for VOYA magazine in August 2009. Right now I am working on an article about post apocalyptic novels. Let me know and I will send you a copy of both. B

Melissa (Avid Reader) said...

Becky - Please do! I'd love to read both articles. You can send them to avidreader25 [at] gmail [dot] com

Vaishnavi said...

I have had a lot of people recommend Pratchett to me, I think I will start with this one. I love Neil Gaiman as well!

Tasha said...

The only Pratchett I've read is Good Omens. Maybe one you'd enjoy, as you like Neil Gaiman?

Melissa (Avid Reader) said...

Good Omens has been on my list for awhile, but I wanted to try one of Pratchett's solo books first to see how much of Good Omens felt like each author. Now I will definitely be reading it.