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Review: Ship Breaker by Paolo Bacigalupi

Tuesday, November 29, 2011
5 Stars: Incredible
Series: Ship Breaker #1
Paperback 352 Pages
Publication: October 3, 2011 by Little, Brown & Company

Winner of the 2011 Michael L. Printz Award

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.

Bacigalupi has created a bleak world set in a dystopian future. Global warming has gone into full swing, drowning cities and wiping Antarctica off the map. Nailer strips metal off old ships to recycle them, as our natural resources have been exhausted. Then he finds the heiress to one of the largest corporations of the world in a wrecked ship, and he must decide whether or not to help her in a world where even your own crew mates will betray you for their own gain.

Much world building has gone into the making of this novel, and Bacigalupi makes it so very, very real and believable. Nailer lives in a society filled with a diverse mix of people from various cultures and beliefs. Everyone is poor, and their conditions influence their judgments. Some will betray comrades for personal gain; others are loyal to their circle but have no sympathy for outsiders. Nailer is a character with more humanity than others and is constantly conflicted between fighting for his own survival and doing what is morally right.

The plot is fast-paced and action-packed. Bacigalupi brings the story together without breaking the flow. He isn't afraid to delve into harsher aspects of the world. There is violence and abuse, and there are new scientific breakthroughs that have created new creatures. The imagery is so vivid and so well written, that some passages may cause readers to become a bit squeamish, yet the story was so gripping that Bacigalupi compelled me to read on, cheering for Nailer and Nita in their quest.

Shipbreaker explores the concept of humanity and what humans will do when facing adverse conditions. I believe that it is worth reading for the wonderful writing style and for the messages within the book.  This book will appeal to boys and girls alike with an interest in science fiction/ fantasy and adventure. If you enjoy this book, then you should read the sequel The Drowned Cities. I know I will be reading it!


A copy was provided by the publisher for review purposes

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