Gwen & Kate's Library

Two sisters' reviews of Young Adult and Middle Grade books, inspired by their lovely library.

Gwen’s Review of Nation by Terry Pratchett

This is one of the most unique and thought-provoking books I have ever read. I loved the different view Terry Pratchett gave to our Western way of life along with the interesting standpoint on religion and belief.

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Series: None!

Genres: Young Adult, Historical Fiction, Fantasy, Adventure, Religion, Humor

Format: Audiobook, narrated by Stephen Briggs

Rating: 4.5 stars

Description:

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!

Review:

This is one of the most unique and thought-provoking books I have ever read. I loved the different view Terry Pratchett gave to our Western way of life along with the interesting standpoint on religion and belief.

I’ve always wanted to read a Terry Pratchett book, since he is so often recommended to lovers of fantasy and my other favorite books and genres. The enormous length of the Discworld series always intimidated me, although a few years ago I did try reading The Wee Free Men, but was slightly confused and didn’t fully enjoy it. When I discovered Nation while browsing the ListenUp! Vermont collection, I decided to give this standalone novel a try, and I’m so glad I did!

Terry Pratchett’s writing style is so unique I still haven’t fully decided if I like it or not. He writes in a sort of Antoine de Saint-Exupéry-style of looking at the adult world through the much more sensible lens of a child, which seems to make the characters think very practically (but in a funny sort of way).

He looks at the ideas of religion and beliefs from a very general standpoint, being critical but not insulting to any specific religions. I also love the view of historical Europe from a non-European perspective and vice versa, which allows some very funny comments to be made, such as this one:

“‘You are very clever,” said the old man shyly. ‘I would like to eat your brains, one day.’
For some reason the books of etiquette that Daphne’s grandmother had forced on her didn’t quite deal with this. Of course, silly people would say to babies, ‘You’re so sweet I could gobble you all up!’ but that sort of nonsense seemed less funny when it was said by a man in war paint who owned more than one skull. Daphne, cursed with good manners, settled for ‘It’s very kind of you to say so.'”

All in all, this book is a very sweet story of growing into the “adult” world and just how silly it is, no matter what culture you live in. While there is no real romance in Nation, there is a very sweet implied “attraction” between the “cannibal savage” and the “trouser-man girl.” After the success of this book of Terry Pratchett’s, I’ve added Dodger to my to-read list as well and look forward to reading it!

One final thing to add: If the historical aspects of this book interest you, especially the cultural bit about beer and the woman’s role, this history podcast I’ve newly discovered may also fascinate you: Neolithic Man, Episode 4 of The Podcast History of Our World.

This book counts for the School YA Bingo Challenge. 

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5 comments on “Gwen’s Review of Nation by Terry Pratchett

  1. siamesemayhem
    January 3, 2015

    I read Dodger and found it hilarious. I especially liked how Fagin, the villain of Oliver Twist, is completely sympathetic here.

    • gwenkate
      January 3, 2015

      Oh interesting — I actually don’t know the story of Oliver Twist very well. Is Dodger based off of it? ~Gwen

      • siamesemayhem
        January 3, 2015

        Yes. I don’t think you have to read Oliver Twist to appreciate it; I barely remembered OT when I read Dodger. In fact, don’t read OT–that book was depressing!

  2. Pingback: School YA Bingo Challenge: BINGO!! (#1) | Gwen & Kate's Library

  3. Pingback: School YA Bingo Challenge FINALE!! | Gwen & Kate's Library

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This entry was posted on January 3, 2015 by in Author: Gwen, Review, School YA Bingo Challenge, Young Adult and tagged , , .
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