As some of you may have heard, Sir Terry Pratchett has had to cancel an appearance at a UK convention due to the embuggerance catching up to him. In 2007, Sir Pratchett was diagnosed with an early form of Alzheimer. He made the announcement to his fan community on December 11th of that year. In 2008, the Nation was released. Over the course of his career, Sir Pratchett has published over 50 books, including his fantasy Discworld series.
Six years later, a helpful volunteer for the local library dropped off the paperback version at my school to spark the student’s interest. It was the end of the year by the time that noticed it sitting on a shelf. The Nation‘s colorful cover drew me to it and I asked the teacher who had been gifted with the book if I could borrow it. After all my years as a geek and book lover, I am a bit shy to admit that this is the first book of Sir Pratchett’s that I have read. It did not disappoint in anyway.
The Nation tells the story of two young people who find themselves struggling to survive after a tsunami hits the South Pacific stranding them on the same island. The bigger problem is that while Mau called the island home before the wave is that Daphane is a trouserman, an alien in his world. As you might have guessed, they quickly form a bond that helps them transcend cultural and language differences. It is then that the real action begins. Throughout the novel, they will fight to protect the island and the people slowly begin to gather afterwards.
It is the novel’s approach to culture and how it explains both Daphane’s and Mau’s world, that really caught me. I knew that I could use this novel to teach culture and its intricacies in my classroom. The potential for a love story would engage my classroom’s readers as well as its character’s logical approach to their world. The concepts of what it is to be adult and what defines community after a disaster. Others have pointed out that this is a character driven story tackles themes of death and faith as well. All of this is present in the novel and while that may should heavy, Sir Pratchetts’s narrative flows in a way that the reader absorbs the gravity of the situations faced by the characters, but is never overwhelmed by it. It is as the Washington Post Book World said “A terrific thought provoking book.”
While this novel isn’t set his Discworld universe, it clearly demonstrates his gift for storytelling and why readers have been flocking to his books for years.