Reviews for Nation
Booklist Reviews 2008 August #1
*Starred Review* â€œSomewhere in the South Pelagic Ocean,â€ a tidal wave wipes out the population of a small islandâ€"except for Mau, who was paddling his dugout canoe home after a month spent alone, preparing to become a man. The wave also sweeps a sailing ship carrying Daphne, an English girl, up onto the island and deposits it in the rain forest, where Mau finds her. Over the months that follow, they learn to communicate while welcoming more people to their shores and building a community of survivors. Mau searches for the meaning behind his people's gods, while Daphne applies her nineteenth-century knowledge of science and history to the many puzzles she discovers in this unfamiliar place. Broad in its scope and concrete in its details, this unusual novel strips away the trappings of two very different nations to consider what it is people value and why. Certain scenes are indelible: Mau's nonverbal communication to Daphne that a pregnant woman has landed, and she must help with the birth; or the terrifying yet awesome descent into a cave. Quirky wit and broad vision make this a fascinating survival story on many levels. Copyright 2006 Booklist Reviews.
Horn Book Guide Reviews 2009 Spring
A tsunami shipwrecks Ermintrude on a tropical island. There she meets Mau, the only survivor of the island's "nation." The historical era is an alternative nineteenth century. Serious subjects and juicy ethical questions are fully woven into action and character. Add a romance, encounters with ghosts, and lots of gunfire, and it's hard to imagine a reader who won't feel welcomed. Copyright 2008 Horn Book Guide Reviews.
Horn Book Magazine Reviews 2008 #5
Two civilizations meet when a tsunami shipwrecks an English vessel on a small tropical island. Representing the empire is the sole survivor of the wreck, the young girl Ermintrude. She meets Mau, a boy on the brink of manhood, and the only survivor of the island's "nation." All the attractions of a castaway story are here -- including an ingenious use of found materials, exotic plants and animals, nature's violence, really bad bad guys, and a single footprint in the sand -- but this story holds far more. The historical setting is an alternative nineteenth century in which the Russian Plague has killed off the English monarch, and the monarch-in-waiting, King Henry IX, is marooned on the other side of the world. This cheeky premise releases Pratchett into an exploration of the impulse to empire and an examination of a world in which all assumptions -- about society, law, science, gender, religion, and justice -- are up for questioning. As Mau says, "The wave came. These are new days. Who knows what we are?" The unique pleasure of this story is that all the serious subjects and juicy ethical questions, such as the dilemma of the compassionate lie, are fully woven into action and character. Satirical portraits of upper-class twits, slapstick buffoonery, bad puns, and that particular brand of English wit buoy this story at every turn. Add a romance of gentle sweetness, encounters with ghosts, and lots of gunfire, and it is hard to imagine a reader who won't feel welcomed into this nation. Copyright 2008 Horn Book Magazine Reviews.
Kirkus Reviews 2008 August #2
Pratchett's latest masterpiece chronicles a lad's struggle to survive, and far harder struggle to make sense of the universe, after a tsunami wipes out his entire people. Along with the lives of everyone he has ever known, the devastating wave sweeps away Mau's simple, happy soul--literally, he believes. Fortunately, though much of his angry quest to find something to replace his lost faith in the gods is internal and individual, he acquires company on his tropical island, in the form of the shipwrecked, repressed-but-not-for-long daughter of a high British government official and a ragged group of survivors from other islands who straggle in. This is no heavy-toned tale: Tears and rage there may be in plenty, but also a cast of marvelously wrought characters, humor that flies from mild to screamingly funny to out-and-out gross, incredible discoveries, profound insights into human nature and several subplots--one of which involves deeply religious cannibals. A searching exploration of good and evil, fate and free will, both as broad and as deep as anything this brilliant and, happily, prolific author has produced so far. (Fantasy. 11 & up) Copyright Kirkus 2008 Kirkus/BPI Communications.All rights reserved.
Publishers Weekly Reviews 2008 August #2
In Carnegie Medalist Pratchett's (the Discworld novels; A Hat Full of Sky ) superb mix of alternate history and fantasy, the king of England, along with the next 137 people in line to the throne, has just succumbed to the plague; the era might be akin to the 1860s or '70s. As the heir apparent is being fetched from his new post as governor of an island chain in the South Pelagic Ocean, his daughter, the redoubtable Ermintrude, still en route to join him in the South Pelagic, has been shipwrecked by a tsunami. She meets Mau, whose entire people have been wiped out by the great wave (he escaped their fate only because he was undergoing an initiation rite on another island). She and Mau each suffer profound crises of faith, and together they re-establish Mau's nation from other survivors who gradually wash up on shore and rediscover (with guidance from spirits) its remarkable lost heritage. Neatly balancing the somber and the wildly humorous in a riveting tale of discovery, Pratchett shows himself at the height of his powers. Ages 12-up. (Oct.) [Page 47]. Copyright 2008 Reed Business Information.
School Library Journal Reviews 2008 October
Gr 7-10-- In this first novel for young people set outside of Discworld, Pratchett again shows his humor and humanity. Worlds are destroyed and cultures collide when a tsunami hits islands in a vast ocean much like the Pacific. Mau, a boy on his way back home from his initiation period and ready for the ritual that will make him a man, is the only one of his people, the Nation, to survive. Ermintrude, a girl from somewhere like Britain in a time like the 19th century, is on her way to meet her father, the governor of the Mothering Sunday islands. She is the sole survivor of her ship (or so she thinks), which is wrecked on Mau's island. She reinvents herself as Daphne, and uses her wits and practical sense to help the straggling refugees from nearby islands who start arriving. When raiders land on the island, they are led by a mutineer from the wrecked ship, and Mau must use all of his ingenuity to outsmart him. Then, just as readers are settling in to thinking that all will be well in the new world that Daphne and Mau are helping to build, Pratchett turns the story on its head. The main characters are engaging and interesting, and are the perfect medium for the author's sly humor. Daphne is a close literary cousin of Tiffany Aching in her common sense and keen intelligence wedded to courage. A rich and thought-provoking read.--Sue Giffard, Ethical Culture Fieldston School, New York City [Page 158]. Copyright 2008 Reed Business Information.
VOYA Reviews 2008 October
Young Mau is stuck between two identities, boy and man, when his rite of passage into adulthood is thwarted by a deadly storm that wipes out the rest of his island nation. As fellow survivors from disparate places and cultures begin to converge on his home, Mau must not only work to negotiate his own identity, he must also lead these strangers through their own recovery. Mau's closest ally is Daphne, a "ghost girl," British royalty whose ship crashed onto the island during the storm. Despite language and cultural differences, Mau and Daphne manage to connect and lead the others by sharing and merging cultural histories, sometime listening to and other times ignoring the loud voices of their ancestors. Although most of what Mau knows has been ruined and much of what Daphne has been taught turned on its head, their leadership forges a new nation, as old truths are questioned and revised. Again Pratchett creates a magical yet familiar world full of fantastic images and difficult decisions. There is a lot going on in the novel-this reviewer could not help feeling as if she were missing something-but there is something to be said for Pratchett's respect for the young reader whom he imagines can keep up with and find pleasure in the difficult worlds he creates. Dark and sometimes funny, this complex tale asks the reader to consider a variety of issues, from identity and tradition to faith and prejudice.-Jennifer Miskec PLB $17.89. ISBN 978-0-06-143302-3. 4Q 4P J S Copyright 2008 Voya Reviews.