Friday, July 13, 2012

Ship Breaker by Paolo Bacigalupi [Review]

4.5 out of 5 Robots!

Ship Breaker By Paolo Bacigalupi
Series: Ship Breaker  #1
Genre: Dystopian/Sci-Fi Young Adult
Release: May 1, 2010
Hardcover: 326 Pages
Publisher: Little, Brown Books for Young Readers
My Copy: Purchased
Reviewer: Shannon
Buy the Book: Amazon

Book Summary:

In America's Gulf Coast region, where grounded oil tankers are being broken down for parts, Nailer, a teenage boy, works the light crew, scavenging for copper wiring just to make quota--and hopefully live to see another day. But when, by luck or chance, he discovers an exquisite clipper ship beached during a recent hurricane, Nailer faces the most important decision of his life: Strip the ship for all it's worth or rescue its lone survivor, a beautiful and wealthy girl who could lead him to a better life...

In this powerful novel, award-winning author Paolo Bacigalupi delivers a thrilling, fast-paced adventure set in a vivid and raw, uncertain future.

Shannon's Thoughts: 

Vivid.  That is the best word I can use to describe Ship Breaker.  Paolo Bacigalupi does a fantastic job of creating a realistic portrayal of a grim future.  In Bacigalupi's future world oil is scarce and people scavenge tankers for parts to earn a living. Climate change has taken its toll on earth - entire cities can be wiped out by category 6 hurricanes known as City Killers. The author puts in a thousand tiny details like that one that help paint a richly imagined future. This is my favorite part of the whole story.  I love it when authors are able to drop readers in the middle of a setting and deftly navigate them around without having to explain everything to get their point across.  Bacigalupi does this impeccably:  from the setting, to the characters, down to the even the slang.

I also enjoyed reading having a male protagonist.  Nailer is a well fleshed out and complicated character.  He has to constantly fight for survival and those survival instincts sometimes put him at odds with his decision to help Nita, the wealthy girl he rescues on the wrecked clipper.  I liked that he didn’t instantly turn into a saint and there were times when he was very tempted to change his mind and take the money instead.  I would have liked to see Nita fleshed out more, however.  I never felt like I had a good handle on her.   

I think it is fairly obvious from the book description that this is a pretty gritty young adult book.  The world Nailer and his friends inhabit is harsh and death is never very far away.  There are some heavy themes and I wouldn’t recommend this to younger readers.  

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