My daughter has been censoring my reading lately. She refuses outright to allow me to read certain books, like Brisingr, the third book in the Eragon series and Inkdeath, the third book in the Inkheart series.
As for Nation.... "You won't like this book," my daughter said as she handed it to me. She meant that SHE did not like this book. "I usually would give every Terry Pratchett book I read a 10 out of 10. I give this one a 6, maybe. He is usually at least amusing, even when he is grim. This one is mostly just grim though."
My assessment is more generous than my daughter's. Nation is intense. And contains significantly more mayhem, death, and destruction than most Pratchett stories, for adults or children. And rage at the universe. Along with Pratchett's customary skewering of the silliness of every society and religion he happens across. With, perhaps, a little more bitterness than usual.
I could not put Nation down. And as I parsed each angry word, I thought that if I were Terry Pratchett, brilliant author of unforgettable stories, and I had been diagnosed with Alzheimer's, well I would be raging at the Universe as well.
I did find much that I found amusing in Nation. But it is more serious than Pratchett's other stories for children. Nation is about growing up fast and taking on responsibilities that appear crushing because you have to, because there is no else to do it. It is about tolerating the idiosyncrasies of others because you need them. It is about using religion to get people to do what you need them to do and about whether it is alright to do so even if you do not yourself believe. And, as per most Pratchett books, it also touches on the flimsiness of the differences between civilization and savagery, manners vs. self-control vs. the power to break free of convention when necessary.
So given that my daughter did allow me to read this book when she has physically prevented my putting hands on so many others in the last few months, I will say that we both recommend this book to gifted, sophisticated teenage readers with a good tolerance for death and destruction.