A Blog of Children's Literature

Nation March 3, 2011

NationNation by Terry Pratchett
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Nation by Terry Pratchett (2008)

Historical Fiction-Survival Story, 367 pages

When a tsunami-like wave wipes out an entire civilization, the sole survivor, Mau, questions the gods’ existence and struggles to find a reason to live. Without his people’s acceptance of his transition into manhood, Mau wavers between a boy’s fears and a man’s determination. Fortunately for him, his reason to continue on is found in the marooned existence of a ghost girl, a trouserman girl who is the sole survivor of her British ship. The two overcome the loss of their cultures, societies, and faiths as they struggle to communicate and do what is right to restore the Nation. As more and more people show up looking for shelter and assistance, Mau becomes a leader and challenges death in order to save others. Throughout the narrative, gods speak to him and question his defiance, but ultimately his innervoices teach him much about being a man, using reasoning, and believing in the unseen. While the book is set in what appears to be 19th century on a small island in the Pacific during British reign, its setting is in “a parallel universe” on one of the Mothering Sunday Islands in the Pelagic Ocean. Although the setting and historical time periods are blurred, the true attraction in Pratchett’s work is the complex lens in which the narrative examines culture, spirituality, humanity, and truth through the eyes of two teenagers, forced to quickly abandon worthless traditions and cling to important moral beliefs. With its twists and turns, Nation takes its readers on a journey full of adventure and discovery. I would highly recommend this book to any young adult reader who enjoys the challenge of weighty subjects and adventure.


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