Ship Breaker by Paolo Bacigalupi [Review]

Set initially in a future shanty town in America’s Gulf Coast region, where grounded oil tankers are being dissembled for parts by a rag tag group of workers, we meet Nailer, a teenage boy working the light crew, searching for copper wiring to make quota and live another day.

The harsh realities of this life, from his abusive father, to his hand to mouth existence, echo the worst poverty in the present day third world. When an accident leads Nailer to discover an exquisite clipper ship beached during a recent hurricane, and the lone survivor, a beautiful and wealthy girl, Nailer finds himself at a crossroads. Should he strip the ship and live a life of relative wealth, or rescue the girl, Nita, at great risk to himself and hope she’ll lead him to a better life.

This is a novel that illuminates a world where oil has been replaced by necessity, and where the gap between the haves and have-nots is now an abyss. Yet amidst the shadows of degradation, hope lies ahead.

— Publisher’s Blurb

I ordered this one as soon as I heard about it (I think it was on the Book Smuggler’s site) not that I’d read Bacigalupi’s previous book (The Wind-Up Girl), but I’d head good things, and the was a buzz about this one from the off, the premise sounded fantastic, it was YA and Dystopian, what further excuses did I need? 😉

Boy! Was it the right decision to make! Ship Breaker, has a fantastically compelling storyline and a whole bunch of interesting characters, but it is the near future world he builds that is the absolute best thing about the book. A dystopian world, just enough on the edge of the one we know to be recognisable, yet a much darker and harsh one to live in.

Nita & Nailer make for a really interesting pair of main characters, with lots of layers that go beyond their respective social status’. Nita is much more that the poor little rich girl in trouble, she’s got plenty of secrets to hide, and only reveals what she thinks will help her, yet she’s more than happy to be up to her elbows in fish guts, to help herself and Nailer survive when they go on the run.

Nailer, well Nailer has a lot of family issues to work through, and he by necessity lives by a code of loyalty, but who should he give that loyalty to, when the question of what’s the right thing to do is asked?

Wonderful read, and likely to be among my very favourites at the end of the year.

Other reviews to Consider

Becky’s Book Reviews | Reading Rants | Wordbird | The Ya Ya Yas | Wood’s Books | Sarah’s Random Musings

Buy: Ship Breaker by Paolo Bacigalupi from The Book Depository

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