Review: Nation by Terry Pratchett


These are the sort of gods I can relate to.

In Terry Pratchett’s new book, Nation, the gods are angry and churlish. They berate Mau, lone survivor of an enormous tidal wave, for not singing the proper songs, doing the proper chants, or bringing them their daily portion of beer. But Mau has begun to suspect that there are no gods and if there are, they don’t deserve any beer.

Mau is a young man born in the Nation, a tribe living on a small island in the South Pelagic Ocean. He is in the midst of his initiation into manhood, returning to his people in a canoe he fashioned himself during his month on the Boy’s Island, when disaster strikes: an immense tidal wave that destroys everything Mau has known. Instead of coming home to a feast, he returns to total devastation, leaving him alone on the island.

I didn’t realize until I started the book that it was meant for a Young Adult audience. While they may not get the references to Jane Austen, Charles the Second and Eyes-Ack New-Tan, there is a lot for minds young and old to think about. The book asks questions about faith and tradition, about the nature of gods and why people believe even when every rational thought points you in the other direction – and why they sometimes need to believe. There is the simple matter of survival: how can Mau provide food, shelter and protection? How can he carry on the traditions of his people? Should he continue the traditions or should he abandon them? What do you do when everything you know is gone? Mau manages to lead his new Nation in an entirely unexpected direction.

I found this a very entertaining read. I have always love post-apocalypse stories, with characters stranded on a tropical island or left alone after a nuclear holocaust or deadly epidemic. There is something compelling in those stories about being alone. You cannot help but root for Mau. I found it full of humor, some scary moments, and an ending that was not what I expected.

My copy was an Advanced Reader edition. Nation will be released on September 30th. You can pre-order your copy at

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