“Nation”, the latest novel from the ever popular Terry Pratchett shows that he’s still able to write great stories, packed with the humour, intelligence we all love, stuck together with just enough reality to make it all work.
This book is a departure from the famous Discworld setting, but as Terry himself said, “I cannot write the next Discworld book while this one is in my head.”
It’s clearly pitched at the Young Adult audience, playing on many childhood mysteries and fears that get the reader to really buy into the protagonists whilst still allowing the author to use some adult themes that keep it interesting to the rest of us.
The deadpan witticisms are all present and correct, as is the master novelist’s craft of describing just enough to convey their world and then letting the reader do the rest of the work. An appreciation of stereotypical colonial Britain helps smile at some of the scenes.
The story is essentially two teenagers rapid induction into adult life in the face of adversity whilst building up the world around them and fighting off the villains in the process. There is plenty of fun adventure to be had (the Beer Song springs to mind) but interspersed with moments of grim humour. I was glad many of the situations occurred to the characters and not to me, but they were brushed off in the way that children might.
One of my favourite scenes involved one of the lead characters inviting the other one to Afternoon Tea in a shipwreck and despite not speaking each other’s language, they still fret over not being able to find the napkin rings. I’m not sure about the culinary delight of dead-lobster flavoured scones.
The story quickly builds up its pace into a proper page turner. It isn’t as intense as his best work but I wasn’t tempted to pick up another book until I’d finished it.
As ever, highly recommended reading.