Title: Ship Breaker
Author: Paolo Bacigalupi
Publisher: Little Brown & Company
This is an edgy dystopian adventure in which the main currency is salvaged goods. Nailer and his friends must work together to salvage metal from tankers. Nailer discovers just how dangerous it is when he falls into a pit of hidden oil and almost drowns. He learns that he must think carefully about who he can trust, and finds that every decision he makes could change his future.
This book wasn’t for me. It was well written, but there was too much dialogue and world building, and not enough plot advancement. I found my mind wandering throughout the dialogue, wondering when something was going to happen. I was mostly unable to relate to the characters-they all seemed kind of gray and flat. I was unable to picture most of the scenes in my head, possibly because I have absolutely no past experience with boating, or working with scrap metal. I was intrigued by the idea, the alternate world that this story offered, and I do think there are a lot of readers who could really get into this one, but I was not one of them. I would recommend this book to readers with a tad bit of background experience in boating, or living out at sea. It would probably make a good recommendation to a male reader interested in a dystopian/post-apocalyptic adventure story Gr. 8-12.
For Use in the Library:
Ship Breaker would probably make a great read for a high school boy’s book group. It’s edgy, and I think it could really appeal to that age group. It could also be a good recommendation for a reader who is looking for a dystopian adventure story.
Teenaged Nailer is living in a dystopian fixture America where climate change and humankind have wreaked havoc on the land and society. Nailer works as a ship breaker, scavenging copper wiring from the insides of abandoned oil tankers being disassembled along the Gulf Coast. A lifealtering, near-death experience—he gets trapped in a chamber filled with oil (“I’m going to drown in goddamn money”)—is just the beginning of Nailer’s adventures as he survives a hurricane and then discovers a wrecked clipper ship and its sole survivor, a rich girl named Nita. Nailer chooses to protect her from harm and help her find her family even though it means leaving hehind the only home—and means of survival—he’s ever known. With Nailer’s menacing and ahusive father, vicious half-men, and a corrupt shipping company all after them. Nailer and Nita journey to the drowned city of Orleans in the hope of rescue. Nebula Award winner Bacigalupi’s debut YA novel vividly depicts a bleak vision: a “whole waterlogged world.. .torn down by the patient work of changing nature.” It is difficult for characters to know who to trust as money and greed separate the haves from the have-nots and dictate loyalty. ‘This thriller will grab and keep readers’ attentions as Nailer and Nita “crew up” in their fight to survive.
Ritter, C. K. (2010). [Review of the book Ship breaker, by P. Bacigalupi]. Horn Book Magazine, 86(4), 98-99. Retrieved from https://libproxy.library.unt.edu:9443/login?url=http://search.ebscohost.com/login.aspx?direct=true&db=a9h&AN=52482506&scope=site