Thursday, 26 August 2010
Nation by Terry Pratchett
I may have mentioned a few times before that I adore Terry Pratchett. Just maybe. Well, I do. With the exception of the Bromeliad Trilogy, I’ve loved everything I’ve ever read by him. Some books more and some less, but they are consistently good and always entertaining. The Bromeliad Trilogy are children’s stories and knowing that Nation is essentially a children’s book made me wonder if I’d like it, but it’s Pratchett, so the risk is low and of course I wanted to try it. My opinion in general? It was worth the read. It’s not one that will list very high on my favourite read list, but it’s still a good book. It’s also another one of those so chock full of sly comments that you could read it ten time and still not have cottoned on to all the remarks. It’s one children will go back and read in ten years time and think, wow, I missed all of that the first time around! As such, it’s not strictly a child’s book and I can recommend it to anyone who has a sense of humour. It helps if you know a little bit about Polynesian and Victorian culture as well, but it’s not absolutely necessary.
Mau is set to become a man. He goes off to the little island alone, finishes his tasks and is already tasting the BBQed fish and hearing the congratulations that will welcome him when he arrives back home. Then the wave hits and wipes out Mau’s world as if the Gods wanted a gigantic do-over. At a total loss, Mau carries on as best he can alone, that is until he meets the shipwrecked Ermintrude, oh, sorry, Daphne. Daphne is the diametric opposite of Mau. She is the product of an English Victorian aristocratic family (her father is 138th in line for the throne; her grandmother is plotting 138 ways of death). She considers being barefoot just short of nudity, eating with your hands is just not done and talking to strangers without a written letter of introduction is a brazen act of wantonness. Consequently, neither understands the other. Fortunately, Ermin…Daphne is intelligent enough to realize that when needs must, convention has just got to pick up and go on an extended vacation and the two rapidly, as children tend to do, begin to understand each other and get on with the business of living and integrating the other stragglers into their Nation.
Nation is a very eclectic book. It tackles any theme that gets in its way and a few that don’t. The obvious ones are coming of age, the excesses of Victorianism, religion, idolatry and belief, but Pratchett really takes on anything that happens to come up. To say much more would be giving too much away, so if you’re interested, I recommend you read the book. It’s a quick and pleasant read but offers a lot to think and to laugh about. 5/5