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Ship Breaker Paperback – October 3, 2011
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A Michael L. Printz Award Winner
"Bacigalupi's future earth is brilliantly imagined and its genesis anchored in contemporary issues...The characters are layered and complex, and their almost unthinkable actions and choices seem totally credible. Vivid, brutal, and thematically rich, this captivating title is sure to win teen fans for the award-winning Bacigalupi." --Booklist (starred review)
"Bacigalupi (The Windup Girl) makes a stellar YA debut with this futuristic tale of class imbalance on the Gulf Coast...Bacigalupi's cast is ethnically and morally diverse, and the book's message never overshadows the storytelling, action-packed pacing, or intricate world-building." --Publishers Weekly (starred review)
* "This thriller will grab and keep readers' attentions as Nailer and Nita 'crew up' in their fight to survive."―The Horn Book, starred review
"Exciting, poetic, and breathtaking."―Sherman Alexie, author of The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian
"A riveting tale of adventure in a broken world."―Scott Westerfeld, author of the Uglies series and Leviathan
"Barely a chapter into this novel, readers may feel as if they're deep inside the black hold of an oil tanker--in a good way."―New York Times Book Review
"A top-notch dystopian thriller, from its claustrophobic opening pages to its race-against-the-waves ending."―Barry Lyga, author of The Astonishing Adventures of Fanboy and Goth Girl and Boy Toy
"Tough, tense, and terrific--a story that keeps you turning pages while you read, and returning to the tale long after you're done."―John Scalzi, author of Old Man's War
"This gripping novel is all about the nature of trust and of family. . . . Nailer and his intense, beautiful world will linger in your mind for a long time."―Kim Stanley Robinson, author of the Mars trilogy
About the Author
- Lexile measure : 690
- Grade level : 10 and up
- Item Weight : 11 ounces
- Paperback : 352 pages
- ISBN-10 : 0316056197
- ISBN-13 : 978-0316056199
- Dimensions : 5.5 x 1 x 8.25 inches
- Publisher : Little, Brown Books for Young Readers; Reprint edition (October 3, 2011)
- Reading level : 14 and up
- Language: : English
- Best Sellers Rank: #26,354 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
- Customer Reviews:
Top reviews from the United States
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When my son first read this book for summer reading before seventh grade, he wouldn’t stop talking about how much he enjoyed it. It took me a year, but I finally got around to it and I’m sad that I took so long for me to get there. Bacigalupi created an amazing dystopian society focused on the rising sea levels predicted by climate change experts. It’s one thing to create a post-apocalyptic world, but amazing authors create fantastic depth, focusing on things like society structure, economy, and other facets of “what will life be like after impending catastrophe”.
As usual, what really makes dystopian stories great are the characters. Whether it’s zombies or nuclear fallout or rising water levels, how people respond is what matters. In this world, at least Nailer’s portion world, it’s cut-throat and you’re only as valuable as what you can provide. There is a certain Lord of the Flies element to the relative freedom the children have (with scenes of them drinking, being violent, and acting way more adult-like than a teenager would in our world), but it isn’t without reason. It’s a hard world and hard world create hard people.
Nailer’s character progression and his inherent drive to do the “right” thing to him (which isn’t exactly in line with the “right” thing by his peers’ standpoint) is what separates him from the rest of the characters. He represents a kind of impractical humanity/compassion that has been lost to this world in lieu of survivalism. As said above, any good dystopia is less about the events that led to the apocalyptic scenario and more about how people respond. This story is no different and it’s wonderful.
As mentioned above, there are scenes with teens cursing and drinking. There is also some somewhat descriptive violence (as well as a certain disregard for other humans) that, while they make complete sense in the world Bacigalupi created, is still a bit dark and cold. Again, this is a dark and cold world. My son was assigned this book in 7th grade so he was just turning 12 when he read it. I think this is a great age range, so long as the content is examined through a comparative filter that the way the teens act in this world is not appropriate for our society. If anything, this would be a more appropriate educational book to examine some of these elements than the tried and true Lord of the Flies, because at least Ship Breaker shows humanity in a cold world whereas Flies shows the inherent darkness in even “civilized” people.
5/5 Giant Cartoon Mallets from Toonopolis, The Blog's Books for Boys review on 4/22/19.
Action...and plenty of it. It starts off fierce and never lets go. I sort of felt like that kid in the never ending story pulling the blanket over my head, clicking on my flashlight and looking to find Falcor. It's that good.
The setups. When something is alluded to in the beginning, it comes rearing right back around in the most satisfying way. This book made me realize this is always the thing I'm looking for. I almost want to play a game of hide and seek with my books. You lay some information down and I'll try to put the pieces together. I can keep up, I promise. Paolo Bacigalupi delivered these fun little finds over and over again.
This world. The most fascinating part besides just the scary realness were the hybrid creatures. This leads me to Tool (my favorite character.) He reminded me of The Hound (Sandore Clegane) from Game of Thrones. If this ever gets made into a movie HE MUST BE CAST. So he's this hybrid mix of a dog, tiger, and hyena made into a super predator that's actually a man. I won't go into all the details, but imagine this and then imagine him have redeeming qualities. I just loved him.
Nailer's father was also up there as far as interesting characters. His story-line and how it played out with Nailer in the end was one of the most satisfying things to read in the whole novel.
Also, this story is weaved among the waves in that a lot of it takes part on the open sea and it reminded me of Charlie St. Cloud with all the boat-speak, but in a cool world gone wrong scenario.
Only complaint? The term "pain blossoms" was beautiful the first time and should have been omitted the later five or six times. Too small of a complaint to even affect my enjoyment of this amazing novel.
The first of three books, and what a start to an incredible journey! The characters are multi dimensional and drive the plot. the twisted landscape they drive through is well brought with many dangers, and also an assortment of truly evil folks.
Pay close attention to Tool, as he ultimately becomes the driving force. But the other characters are also flawed and important.
This is a great trilogy, so go start reading it now!
Top reviews from other countries
The story is about a boy called Nailer who works hard gathering copper wiring from old oil tankers in order to make quota and keep his pitiful job. The setting? A bleak and miserable future 100 years from now. One day he finds something on board a wrecked clipper ship that is destined to change his life forever in ways he could never have imagined... sounds suitably ominous and intriguing.
But, ah, there was a bit too much oil and ships and copper wiring for me.
There were some great fast-paced action scenes, some real gritty nastiness and the author had a tendency to describe the gory details very accurately. I thought some parts were better written and more interesting than others but, on the whole, the story failed to grab me and, thereby, failed to hold my interest.
One of my favourite parts of this book were the constant moral battles the characters faced of self-preservation vs doing the right thing. Getting rich or saving a life? Helping your colleague out of a sticky situation or using their misfortune to further your own career prospects? The tagline of the book is:
Oil is scarce. But loyalty is scarcer.
And that couldn't be a better summarisation of what the novel is about. I was thankful that, even though a lot of the story is built around trust (or lack of) and relationships, there was no birds-singing, cupids-flying, starry-eyed romance; it seems to be an almost unavoidable component in modern dystopian fiction and it made a nice, refreshing change.
[That's us, by the way, the wasteful, blind people who have left the world wrung out and damaged.]
Nailer encounters an entirely new way of living when he and Pima find a 'swank' boat, washed up after a storm. Finding an unexpected survivor presents him with moral challenges, and for the rest of the book he must deal with the consequences of his actions.
Bacigalupi is a thoughtful and passionate author who puts character, ideas and context above plot. His message about environmental and social decay is a powerful one, but he skilfully conveys it as part of the story, rather than as a rant.
I have been eyeing this YA novel on my school Library shelf for a while, and finally got round to it after reading Paolo Bacigalupi's new novel 'The Water Knife', which is very good indeed.
Although this is aimed at young adults it is perfectly good as a "normal" novel, although the final part does tend to lose some of the imagination and detail of the earlier part. But overall it is still a very good piece of work.
Bacigalupi has won praise for his short fiction (Pump Six and other stories is very good, although his futures all tend to be very similar, focussing on climate change and how we will cope after the oil has all gone). I have The Wind-up Girl next in my reading pile....
That pretty much sums up how I felt about Paolo's second effort. The Wind Up Girl (his debut) is far superior, more in depth and fulfilling. Now, I know this book is YA, but maybe Bacigalupi imposed too great a restriction on his writing and style by aiming at a younger crowd. The Wind up girl is doubtless a dark, powerful and cynical work, but there in lie some of its strengths. With Ship Breaker, it felt like the author was just leaving so much unsaid, and character interactions felt unconvincing. At the same time, I believe the book is also a poor fit for its intended audience; the themes are constantly violent, including violence towards kids and there's a load of drug/alchohol abuse. With that in mind, maybe the novel would have been better written for adults in the first place?
On the positive side, Bacigalupi's future world is well imagined and believable, with many unique ideas throughout. Certainly worth a look, though I'd rather recommend his first book.