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Ship Breaker Paperback – October 3, 2011
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At the start of Ship Breaker, Nailer finds an undiscovered oil reservoir in the ship he is exploring -- a lucky strike that would be sufficient to feed him and possibly provide escape from his abusive father. However, when he almost drowns in the oil, and one of his young crew mates finds him, she decides not to rescue him and leaves him to die so she can take advantage of his find. Even though Nailer manages to escape, this incident, set early in the novel, is a perfect introduction to the competing themes of "loyalty in the face of adversity" vs. "everyone for themselves" that run through Ship Breaker. After all, when Nailer finds a gorgeous clipper ship run aground during a hurricane, he faces the same choice: should he rescue the rich "swank" girl trapped inside, or let her die so the ship's salvage can make him wealthy?
YA novels have changed just a tad, haven't they? Yep, although you maybe wouldn't guess so from the paragraphs above, Ship Breaker is actually the first Young Adult novel by Paolo Bacigalupi.Read more ›
What impressed me no end was how well he plunges the reader into a life of extreme poverty. As I was reading about Nailer's life, I thought, we don't need to wait for a dystopian society to see people living like this. It's real, and it's happening now, and I think any middle class teenager could benefit from thinking about how some kids have to grow up. It's shocking, and startling, and the line between the haves and the have nots is bigger than the Grand Canyon. I got all riled up, and it's my hope that other readers do too.
Entertainment value aside, I think the story falters a bit on the emotional side. I felt a connection to Nailer, but it didn't go bone deep. Considering all the terrible stuff that happens to him over the course of this book, I should have been crying for him at some point, and I never did. I'm also curious to see whether teens will embrace Nailer, who is the antithesis of the typical tall, straight-limbed, attractive hero. He's short, scrawny, and horribly scarred. He's not attractive by any conventional standard, so my inner cynic is questioning whether true young adult readers can overcome their natural inclination for superficial beauty.
Ship Breaker is another excellent entry into the ever-growing category of young adult dystopian fiction. If you've enjoyed novels like The Maze Runner by James Dashner, or Inside Out by Maria V. Snyder, then definitely put this one on your list too.
Some specifics? How about this explanation of why the bad guys are bad, supposedly delivered by a teen girl: "It's tar sands development and refining. A way to make burnable fuel, a crude oil replacement. The valuation has gone up, because of carbon production limits. [They] have been refining tar sands in our northern holdings and secretly using... clippers to ship it over the pole to China ... avoiding taxation because of territory disputes in the Arctic." A second character explains: "It's black market fuel,... Banned by convention if not in fact." (page 193).
These lines go wrong just about every way possible. The language does not sound anything close to what a teenage girl would say. The language does sound like a certain sort of adult -- the sort who thinks he sounds smarter if he says "valuation" instead of value, or if he strings together nouns or words pretending to be nouns in a series ("tar sands development and refining"; "carbon production limits"). And how about the substance? The story is set in a world that has broken down, and the worst the bad guys can do is develop a source of oil while "avoiding taxation" and violating "convention"? I am reminded of the movie Mighty Ducks 3 (or was it 2?).Read more ›
Most Recent Customer Reviews
SHIP BREAKER was an engaging futuristic science fiction story. The earth has experienced global warming melting the polar ice and drowning the coastal cities. Read morePublished 17 days ago by K. M. Martin
A gripping page turner. The setting is SF-ish, but the story is a simple but effective, somewhat predictable boy-hardship-girl-but-in-the-end-all-is-well story.Published 21 days ago by Gert-Jan Lind
In some bleak global warming affected future that made me think of where the dad and son were going in 'The Road' children are used to assist in industrial recycling of ships as... Read morePublished 1 month ago by ellison
My son read this for school. His review is:
Positives: Well its paper with words printed on it, so if that's what your after then this is good. Read more
fantastic adventure of a boy who starts deciding about his lifePublished 1 month ago by David Kleinhampl
I powered through this book as I had the second book in the series on my Audible app but I have to admit I wasn’t a big fan. Read morePublished 3 months ago by Drew (@drewsant)
An interesting concept. Folks who don't believe that AGW and sea level rise is happening should read this and his "The Drowned Cities." well written.Published 4 months ago by Amazon Customer