Nailer is a ship breaker who spends his days stripping abandoned oil tankers of their copper wiring. Life on the gulf coast has become
quite tumultuous. Hard work rarely gets anyone ahead in the world. Instead people pray for the possibility of good luck. When Nailer comes across a shipwrecked clipper filled with luxurious items, he has a feeling that his luck has finally arrived. Then he discovers that the ship is not empty. A wealthy teenage girl has survived the wreck.Ship Breaker
is the first book that I've read by Paolo Bacigalupi, and I'm pretty impressed with it. Like many of the young adult novels released these days, it's a dystopia. What really got me about this one was how believable the world building was. Bacigalupi avoids any info dump about how the world got this way, but those who can read between the lines will be able to point out the culprits (mainly global warning melts the ice caps). The gulf coast setting will resonate well with readers so soon after Hurricane Katrina. The story does not emphasize an overpowered big brother-like ruler like other dystopias due, but instead chooses to tell the story of normal people trying to make their way in a world more dangerous than ours.
While reading Ship Breaker
, I really appreciated Bacigalupi's ability to build tension. There are moments of this novel that are incredibly nail biting. I also enjoyed watching the individual struggles of the characters. Nailer can be a very tough hero at times, but he also has doubts. Although he is deep down a good person, he often wonders if he is really wicked and cruel like his father (who serves as the antagonist of this novel). I also enjoyed watching Nita (the rich girl he finds on a ship) struggle to relate to Nailer's less luxurious way of life. Nita is not a snob, and is actually quite capable, but it's impossible to take someone from a life of wealth and drop her in poverty and expect her to have no difficulty adjusting. I found her “fish out of water” storyline to be satisfying. The cast of side characters are also interesting. A few favorites of mine were Pima and her mother Sadna, who are like family to Nailer, and Tool the “Half-Man” who assists Nailer and Nita. I also found the concepts of Half-Men (creatures created from human and animal genetics who are programmed to be loyal to their masters. There's something very Garth Nix about that) to be really interesting, and I'm eager to see where Bacigalupi will go with this in future volumes. The one thing that got on my nerves was the romance. It's true that this book is very light on romance, but I felt what was there was unnecessary.Ship Breaker
is a satisfying young adult sci-fi novel. One thing I must warn the reader about is that it's obviously the first book in a series. By the time Ship Breaker
is completed, the storyline for this book has been resolved, but there are some loose threads. If you pick up Ship Breaker
, be prepared to dedicate yourself to multiple books. I believe it's worth your time.
Rating: four and a half stars
Length: 326 pages
Source: Readfield Community Library
Similar Books: For other young adult dysotpias, try The Hunger Games Trilogy by Suzanne Collins (my reviews
), and the Uglies trilogy by Scott Westerfeld (my reviews
Other books I've read by this author: this is my first
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, and goodreads