Hey you lot, you alright? Glad to hear it.
Well, I’m busy reading books like mad again because someone with a beard thought it would be a good idea to start reviewing books on my blog again, after a few months off. I have been more picky in my selection though, no confusing gimpy handed historical novels or whatever.
So, the first book I’m reading is the new edition of Truckers – The first book of the Nomes by Terry Pratchett. From what I gather, the best/most popular of Terry’s work are getting rereleased in bright new colours in an attempt to drag the kids away from their xboggles and playstrapons to read a bit of good ol’ literature.
I kinda avoided Pratchett’s work when I was younger, mainly as an act of rebellion because my mates raved about the Discworld books constantly and I was like some sort of wannabe 90s hipster-before-they-were-called-that. What I did read, I enjoyed, but the thought of having to commit myself to the entire Discworld series when I really just wanted to go shopping in Leeds and buy CD singles in fancy boxes, and watch terrible movies on video because there was the promise of a scene with a lady in a bra.
Well, this book isn’t tied into the Discworld bunch, instead being part of The Bromeliad Trilogy, a series charting the adventure of the Nomes, tiny people who live hidden from mankind, as they struggle to survive in a bigger world.
WHAT’S IT ABOUT? (Spoilers)
Led by Masklin, a group of Nomes escape starvation and hop aboard a truck that leaves them at a department store loading bay. Meeting the ‘inside’ Nomes, a society of Nomes that didn’t even realise ‘outside’ Nomes existed, they find answers in the form of ‘The Thing’, a mysterious electronic object. The Thing turns out to be the navigational system from an ancient spaceship that crashed thousands of years ago, stranding the Nomes on Earth.
The Thing then warns that the department store is due to be demolished, which means Masklin faces the difficult task of convincing the Inside Nomes that they must escape the safety of their ‘home’, as well as the even more difficult task of actually escaping.
Pratchett’s writing style is easy to follow, avoiding the lazier tropes of fantasy writers, made-up-names that are impossible to say out loud, jumps in logic that only make sense if you throw a blind eye to common sense and the like. Everything is grounded in reality, with the Nomes’ quest for survival being more than just a dumb quest. The Nomes are given a decent enough origin, and fortunately it’s not ‘they are fairies and magic and blah blah blah’, although some may have the opposite reaction finding out that they’re aliens.
Characters are fully formed and relatable, with Masklin coming across as a frustrated, impetuous fighter and his female counterpart, Grimma shows elements of feminism that don’t get rammed down the reader’s throat. The supporting cast also avoid cliché, and even two page animals, such as a fox encountered by Masklin in the first chapter, is given a depth of character through Pratchett’s descriptive text.
Obviously, with two more books in the series, the ending is left open, however this story is pretty much self-contained and doesn’t leave the reader feeling short changed with just a chapter in a greater tale.
I would recommend this book to anyone over the age of 8 or so, although getting my daughter to read it has proven quite a challenge, she’s not really much of a fan of fantasy books. I hoped this would act as some kind of introduction to the genre, but alas the Nomes are no match for Tracy Beaker or the Wimpy Kid.
This new addition has new artwork from Mark Beech, although you’d be forgiven for thinking that he’s not channelling Quentin Blake. You can kinda get a slightly cynical “kids like Roald Dahl so let’s make this book look like one of his” vibe from the new edition, but I suppose if it gets kids reading the books, you can’t complain. It certainly beats the ‘Now a Major Motion Picture’ book covers that are used.
The book is has a RRP of £6.99 in paperback from Penguin Random House , and you can find it cheaper on amazon or in a book shop probably.