- Grade Level: 10 and up
- Lexile Measure: 690 (What's this?)
- Series: Ship Breaker (Book 3)
- Hardcover: 384 pages
- Publisher: Little, Brown Books for Young Readers (October 10, 2017)
- Language: English
- ISBN-10: 0316220833
- ISBN-13: 978-0316220835
- Product Dimensions: 6 x 1.2 x 8.6 inches
- Shipping Weight: 1.1 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
- Average Customer Review: 50 customer reviews
- Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #63,400 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
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Tool of War (Ship Breaker) Hardcover – October 10, 2017
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From School Library Journal
Gr 10 Up—The third entry in his award-winning dystopian series, following Ship Breaker and The Drowned Cities, tells the story of Tool the "augment," a genetically engineered "half-man" made up of a cocktail of genetic material—human, dog, tiger. Augments are designed to be the ultimate killing machines while remaining fiercely loyal to his creators. However, once Tool discovers that he can suppress his submissive instincts, he rebels against his creators and splinters off from his augment pack to lead an army of soldier boys—human child soldiers—to capture the Drowned Cities. Tool's creators find him and wipe out his army, which forces him back into hiding. With the help of a new pack—a band of teen merchant sailors—and old allies, Tool resumes his desrtructive mission. Bacigalupi proves once again that he is a master of world-building; the world he created in the previous two books is just as desolate, violent, and intriguing in this installment. The tension—from the time Tool's creators rain fire down upon him in the Drowned Cities, to when Tool finally comes face-to-face with the man who built him—is relentless throughout the narrative, and the lack of primary character development (perhaps a result of expecting readers to have plowed through the first two books) allows for the introduction and development of supporting characters, such as Jones, a junior analyst and young prodigy for Mercier Corporation who is helping track Tool down. The amount of violence and bloodshed makes this more suitable for an older audience. VERDICT A strong, entertaining continuation of Bacigalupi's postapocalyptic series; teens will be hoping for future installments. Hand to those who devoured the first two books.—Tyler Hixson, Brooklyn Public Library
Praise for Tool of War:
A 2018 Locus Awards Finalist for Young Adult Books
*"Bacigalupi's environmentally ravaged world remains both richly described and terrifying, his characters diverse and complex. Through Tool, he explores free will and the consequences of humans playing at being gods. ...Well worth the wait."
―Publishers Weekly, starred review
"Bacigalupi masterfully examine[s] larger questions about humanity, genetic engineering, loyalty, freedom, violence, and survival. This striking novel...is an all-too-timely reminder that humans' actions have the power to change the world for better or worse."
―The Horn Book
"Makes readers think about what it means to be human, the price of genetic engineering, and the inhumanity of the corporations who put profit above all else."
"A cleverly described, intricate, and equally desolate world. Fans of the series will love it, and...new readers will quickly understand the world."
*"A strong, entertaining continuation of Bacigalupi's postapocalyptic series."―School Library Journal, starred review
*"Tool is at center stage at last as readers move through Bacigalupi's exploration of the intricate relationships connecting hunter and prey, master and enslaved, human and monster. Masterful."―Kirkus Reviews, starred review
"Bacigalupi's action scenes are brilliantly cinematic, powering the pacing with breathtaking superhero stunts. Tool, as ever, is a character impossible to forget."―Booklist
Praise for Ship Breaker
Michael L. Printz Award Winner, 2011
A Washington Post Best Book for Young Readers, 2012
Green Earth Book Award Young Adult Fiction Honor Book, 2011
YALSA Top Ten Best Fiction for Young Adults, 2010
Publishers Weekly Best Children's Books, 2010
ALSC Notable Children's Books, 2011
"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)
"A stellar YA debut...the book's message never overshadows the storytelling, action-packed pacing, or intricate world-building." --Publishers Weekly (starred review)
Praise for The Drowned Cities
A 2012 Kirkus Reviews Best of YA Book
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-- Ahead, Seascape Boston's seawalls loomed: piles of bricks, slabs of asphalt from old roads and overpasses, massive concrete columns bristling with rusting iron rebar, all of it covered now with barnacles and draped in seaweed spackled with anemones.
-- "What do you think of Kanodia's legacy?"
-- Mahlia startled. Tool slumped hard against the rail, breathing heavily, having managed the short walk from the mast.
--"He planned," she said. "He saw everything coming, and he planned."
-- "A very good general," Tool agreed.
-- "He wasn't no general," Van objected. "He was, like, some kind of school guy."
-- "A professor of biology," Tool said.
-- "A _professor_," Van mimicked.
-- Mahlia shot him a warning look. According to Seascape legend, Anurag Kanodia had been more interested in scientific research at one of the Seascape's ancient universities than in the practical activities of the world. His family had a tradition in trading and finance, but he had always been driven by learning, rather than profit.
-- But then one day, the marine biologist had abruptly quit his academic life. He abandoned a treatise on the adaptation of corals to acidifying oceans, shut down his research, and then, as legend told it, he had walked out into the city, carrying a piece of chalk.
-- A piece of chalk in one hand, and an altimeter in the other.
-- According to the stories the Seascapers told, he'd circled through the city, marking a contour line with his chalk -- a line many meters higher than most estimates of sea level rise.
-- The seas are coming, he said when anyone asked him why he was marking chalk on buildings.
-- People took it as self-aggrandizing performance art, and laughed. Then the scrubbed the silly man's scribblings off their homes and offices. But when people washed off the chalk, he returned with paint, graffiti-spraying sea level promises in fuchsia and chartreuse, blaze orange and neon blue -- gaudy colors, too rude to ignore. Colors that refused to wash away.
-- He was soon arrested for vandalism. Bailed out by a wealthy sister, he returned to his midnight graffiti raids. Marking and re-marking his city with the stubborn line. He was arrested again, and fined.
-- Then arrested again.
-- And again.
-- Defiantly unapologetic each time, he was finally jailed for a year. At his sentencing, he laughed at the judge. "People don't mind that the sea will swallow their homes, but woe to the man who paints their future for them," he said.
-- When he was eventually released from jail, his vandalism took a new form. If people only understood business, then business it would be. Kanodia had the blood of merchants in his veins and so now, with the help of his sister's connections, he went about gathering investors, buying as much as he could of the city that stood above his old painted lines.
-- Eventually, he and a few major corporate partners purchased nearly all the real estate above the line. They collected rents, made steady money, and waited patiently for the inevitable Category Six hurricane that research told him must eventually arrive.
-- In the aftermath of Hurricane Upsilon, which destroyed much of lower Boston, Kanodia turned his investments to the devastation below the line, buying up the wreckage, and harvesting from it. He was an old man by then, but daughters and sons continued the project. The seawalls were the result. Rising high across the mouth of an anticipated bay, they were comprised of every bit of wrecked architecture that had lain below the storm surge line.
-- "He didn't pretend things would get better," Mahlia said. "He made things better, because he saw how things were."
-- "Indeed. A rare talent," Tool said. "Very few choose to have it."
Highly, highly recommended.
I've been waiting for a follow-on to Bacigalupi's earlier YA novels "Ship Breaker" and "The Drowned Cities," and it's finally here. I devoured it in two days and wish there was more, but at least the stage is now set for a fourth installment, so I'll be patient.
The principle characters of the earlier novels, children and teenagers of a near-future world profoundly changed by pollution and climate change, ruled by warlords and corporations who rose with the fall of nation-states, populate "Tool of War," which is set a few years on, the children now teenagers, the teens young adults. They are survivors, now wiser in the ways of war, power, and corporate politics.
The main character in this book (also present in the earlier novels, though in smaller roles) is an augment, a human with spliced tiger and hyena genes, incubated in a tube and raised in a creche, trained in warfare and obedience. He is the Tool of the title, now breaking the chains of genetic subservience and striking out on his own, seeing himself as new kind of human, no longer a servant.
Here's a relevant paragraph from my review of "Ship Breaker":
"'Ship Breaker' is killer good: a young adult adventure set in a post-environmental disaster, post-nation/state world where powerful clans control global trade conducted by sailing ships and dirigibles, and society is divided into two classes: the very rich and the very poor. It's a Margaret Atwood Oryx & Crake scenario on steroids, and like Atwood, Paolo Bacigalupi has rich narrative and descriptive powers: you can see the world of the shipbreakers on their oil-stained beach, you can feel the rust and sharp edges on the steel plates the breakers pry off their beached oil tankers, you can hear the hammer blows and the pop of forced rivets, you can smell the fuel oil and sweat. There's nothing theoretical about Bacigalupi's writing, nothing that requires page after page of dry explanation; his fictional world is immediate and gripping, fully revealed through the context of a kick-ass story, all but real."
Here's another relevant paragraph, from my review of "The Drowned Cities":
"I really should list this as a banned book and beat the rush, because when the helicopter parents who have challenged 'Lord of the Flies' and 'The Hunger Games' see the darkness here, they will surely put 'The Drowned Cities' on their target list."
Relevant how? Because some of what impressed me so in the earlier novels is missing or muted in this one. The lives of the young protagonists are less gritty and feral. The physical world is less threatening and immediate, though there are intriguing elements, as in the islands and arcologies of Seascape, the former Boston. The exciting feeling of reading something those who want to control our thoughts might try to ban or burn is absent as well. It's as if Bacigalupi has damped the fire that burned in the previous novels ... only a little, mind you, but it's noticeable.
Still hella good though, some of the best YA science fiction around, and I'll be there for Ship Breaker #4.
p.s. Many of the ideas and concepts explored in the Ship Breaker series come from Bacigalupi's masterful adult science fiction novel "The Windup Girl." Another of his adult novels, "The Water Knife," inspires parts of the future world revealed in "Tool of War." Any fan of Bacigalupi's YA fiction should read his adult fiction as well.
Paolo Bacigalupi is a favorite author of mine despite being a little outside my normal taste. The first book of his that I read was "The Windup Girl" and is also a brilliant work though I don't think it's in the same world as this series.
Technically, this series is considered YA. I suppose since most of the main characters are young and there is little if any reference to sex, it would qualify though there is plenty of realistic violence and there are themes I don't consider consistent with youth.
Bacigalupi's books tend to take place in a near future of our world wrecked by ecological disaster. I definitely see shades of Margaret Atwood in his writing. Unlike most in that genre, it's not all rot and ruin. There is new growth, there are new technologies, and society has adapted in various ways. Of course, the garden spots aren't where interesting stories of conflict happen so you won't get much of them in the books.
As long as the violence isn't too much for you, I highly recommend you look at this series. The first book, "Shipbreaker" starts off brilliantly.