Wednesday, August 26, 2009

I'm a huge fan of Terry Pratchett. I think I've read Good Omens at least 10 times, and I've re-read every Discworld novel. So I was eagerly anticipating Nation, and yet once it arrived it just sat around for a while before I finally picked it up. Which is odd, I will often start reading a book on the way home from the library. I think that maybe I had read this review from BoingBoing,
This isn't a Discworld novel or a Truckers novel -- it's not Good Omens. It's a complete departure for Pratchett and yet is recognizably him, on every page, writing with the same grace and wit we know from his other work.
and I think that maybe I was scared, knowing that Terry Pratchett has been diagnosed with early onset Alzheimer's...and projecting visions of my grandmother (who has Alzheimer's), and being really worried that I was going to read his latest novel and it would somehow be less...

Turns out I had absolutely no reason to worry. The story on its own is awesome, and he manages to do that thing he does in all the later Discworld novels (which is the reason I love them so much) and that is to inject social commentary in this amazingly elegant way that allows you to leave behind your preconceived notions and come at an issue from a really different angle. What I see in Nation is a commentary on religion - and how different people handle their idea of god, especially when their entire world is turned upside down (how can you thank god for saving your life, when presumably that same god just killed every single person you cared about?) and every character copes in different ways. I didn't feel that it was at all judgemental - but perhaps that is because my ideas are far more in line with the main characters, and not at all in line with the crazy priest, but I suspect that most people reading this book would not feel judged. I really enjoyed the take on the question of "why didn't god make the world perfect?" (Answer: This world was just a dry run, he's gone off to make a more perfect world, but everyone who has been deemed worthy of being offered the opportunity to go there has declined) and "does god exist?" (Answer: Ito made people smart enough to figure out that he doesn't exist)

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