Book: Nation by Terry Pratchett
Genre(s): Science Fiction, pseudo-historical fiction
Publication date: 2008
Hardcover: 384 pages
Other: Printz Honor book, 2009
Summary: Far away and long ago, in a parallel world much like our Earth, a boy – Mau – is about to become a man by completing the ultimate test of his island Nation — a coming of age ritual in which he must find his way back home after spending a month on Boys Island. Just as his ordeal is almost over, a sudden tsunami destroys his Nation and Mau is left bereft, not even sure if he’s a boy, a man, or a ghost.
In the meantime an English girl — Daphne — is marooned on Mau’s island, by the very same tsunami. Nation is the story of the coming of age of these two teens as they navigate language and cultural differences to help each other — and others — survive and rebuild a very different Nation. Funny and heartbreaking by turns, this book will grab those who venture into its vast world.
To whom will this appeal?: This book will appeal to older teens and adults who enjoy adventure stories with a strong twist of humor as well as philosophy. Fans of Phillip Pullman’s His Dark Materials trilogy are especially advised to run, not walk, to find a copy of this book, as this book will help to slake the thirst that Pullman’s work creates, for the rare combination of adventure, humor, philosophy, deep understanding of human nature, and an understanding of the fragility and simultaneous beauty of the human predicament.
Others who will also enjoy this book: fans of “marooned on an island” adventures, appreciators of multicultural literature, fans of historical fiction, folks who are mesmerized by books such as Lord of the Flies (but wish for a less damning ending).
As far as appeal factors, while the book is indeed faster paced than many a philosophical meditation on the human condition, and at times is in fact a page-turner, this is more a book to be savored than rushed through, so it will be better appreciated by those who like their adventures more on the literary side.