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Ship Breaker: Number 1 in series [Hardcover]

Paolo Bacigalupi
4.1 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (19 customer reviews)
RRP: 10.61
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Book Description

5 Aug 2010

In the 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 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. . . .

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Product details

  • Hardcover: 256 pages
  • Publisher: Little, Brown Young Readers US; 1 edition (5 Aug 2010)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0316056219
  • ISBN-13: 978-0316056212
  • Product Dimensions: 21.3 x 14.7 x 3 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.1 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (19 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 290,905 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Product Description


Praise for Ship Breaker"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)

Book Description

A dystopian thriller set one hundred years in the future, in the gulf coast region, after an environmental collapse

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Customer Reviews

4.1 out of 5 stars
4.1 out of 5 stars
Most Helpful Customer Reviews
11 of 12 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Great YA novel 7 Jun 2010
Ship Breaker, released in May 2010, is the second full length novel by Paolo Bacigalupi after The Windup Girl, which won the Nebula Award and is currently in the running for the Hugo Award, and his first Young Adult novel.

Ship Breaker is set in the Gulf Coast region of the United States in the near future, a world ravaged by poverty when oil reserves have been depleted and the sea level has risen dramatically due to climate change, causing geographic and societal shifts. Oil tankers, freighters and other huge sea vessels are no longer of any use due to the lack of oil, their only remaining value is whatever can be salvaged from them. On the Coast, ship breakers work at salvaging whatever they can from these huge ships, tearing them apart bit by bit until nothing remains. Light crews, constituted of children and teenagers due to their ability to fit into cramped ducts, are responsible for the smaller salvages such as the copper wiring or scrap metal whereas heavy crews salvage the bigger, heavier components.

Nailer Lopez, a teenager, is a Ship Breaker, he works for a light crew struggling as best he can to make salvage quota. After a severe hurricane known as a "City Killer" hits his coastal community, he and his crew-mate Pima discover a shipwrecked Clipper inside which they find wealth beyond their wildest dreams: silverware, food, paintings, etc. The crew are all dead, but they stumble upon the unconscious body of what appears to be a very wealthy, and beautiful, teenage girl. They are faced with a dilemma, salvage anything they can from their "Lucky Strike" before anyone else notices the wreck, or go against their instinct and save the girl.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
By Realist
Format:Kindle Edition
If you've read Windup Girl by the same author, imagine a similarly dystopic near future world suffering from environmental and structural collapse, largely controlled by corporate interests.

The protagonist is very much the young boy 'Nailer', I can only imagine this leads credence to the concept of this being a YA book, but honestly as someone long past young adulthood (alas) I still enjoyed this. I can't categorise it as unputdownable, but if you read Windup Girl and you are hunting for more of Paolo, this will definitely provide a fix. The style is similar, but doesn't quite have the polish, strength or the depth and breadth of character set that 'Windup Girl' has, but is still a good read.

The book begins accessibly and with quality writing instead of relying on shock value to keep you reading, and remains so throughout. Nailer feels completely a believable character, as are many of the supporting cast. At no point does the plot feel flawed or contrived, and the few deus ex machinas that are inevitable in the vast majority of fiction don't detract from the tale.

Definitely not one of those books that will stay with you, but a good read none the less, for young as well as old adults.

As ever, shame about the ridiculous e-book pricing.
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8 of 9 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A cracking actioneer 30 Nov 2010
Format:Hardcover|Verified Purchase
I love Paolo Bacigalupi's writing, building on the deeply evocative wind-up girl this story takes us to a near future Gulf coast where obsolete tankers and other large ships are broken and salvaged. The future is environmentally challenged and impoverished and instead of the Gulf we know of today it's more like Bangladesh. The story revolves around two teenage salvage workers Nailer and Pima and their discovery of a wrecked ship (complete with helpless, lost rich girl), stuffed with riches beyond the dreams of avarice, well food and money, their horizons are as impoverished as their lifestyles and environment. It's a classic actioneer do they take the money or save the girl? The dystopian near future is well sketched out, well if you imagine the future to be like coastal Bangladesh anyway, and the main tropes of environment awareness, morality and ethics are finely drawn into the plot.

I was surprised to find this billed as a YA book, parts of it are properly dark and quite nasty on occasion but it's an enjoyable romp and a cracking read.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars The spirit of Robert Louis Stevenson 5 Oct 2011
I read Shipbreaker after rave reviews from my 13-year-old son. I was struck by how much it resembled Treasure Island and Kidnapped: A boy on the brink of manhood, who is betrayed by the adults he should be able to trust is sucked into a rollicking adventure. As with Stevenson, there's not a lot of humor and the almost continuous downbeat atmosphere means that it's not a light read - but definitely compelling.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
By John Tierney VINE VOICE
Format:Hardcover|Verified Purchase
An excellent book, aimed at young adults and so containing some violence and mildish swearing, Ship Breaker tells the tale of Nailer, scratching a living in the Gulf of Mexico in a dystopian future of climate change and limited power and food. Nailer works to break up ships left stranded in the new world and he inhabits a vividly imagined world. The early chapters are exciting and well thought out. As we learn about the Nailer's life and times, he is catapulted into an adventure that will test his loyalties and his courage.
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....
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Most Recent Customer Reviews
5.0 out of 5 stars Recommended
I was looking for something after the Hunger Games that was different yet still dystopian... I started with the Rot and Ruin books (zombies, but don't let that put you off, great... Read more
Published 2 months ago by N. Lang
4.0 out of 5 stars A different audience
If you read Paolo Bacigalupi's first novel, the excellent "The Windup Girl", you'll be expecting a gritty, violent and grown-up adventure, full of complex twists and turns. Read more
Published 9 months ago by ferret70
5.0 out of 5 stars A Memorable Dystopian Tale of Survival from Paolo Bacigalupi
Presumably set in the same dystopian future as his critically - and popularly - acclaimed "The Windup Girl", Bacigalupi's "Ship Breaker" remains one of the best Young Adult... Read more
Published 20 months ago by John Kwok
3.0 out of 5 stars Not up to the standard of the Windup Girl
Interesting ideas but execution was thin and not captivating....looks like there might be sequels but these will not be getting our
Published on 29 Jun 2012 by J & M
5.0 out of 5 stars wonderful book!
Wonderful book! Fully captured my attention from the very start. An extremely well sketched future. Read more
Published on 28 May 2012 by Ter
3.0 out of 5 stars This novel breaks towards the end...
Cracking start. Confused directionless middle. Gets better for a bit, then ends abruptly and unsatisfactorily. Read more
Published on 22 Feb 2012 by Chris
3.0 out of 5 stars Great world building, but not for me.
This was definitely a well written book but unfortunately it just wasn't for me. I'd give it around 2.5 stars for my enjoyment, but it does deserve more. Read more
Published on 17 Oct 2011 by Stepping Out of the Page
5.0 out of 5 stars Great Book
I had previously read Windup Girl and was therefore familiar with the authors style - good plot, interesting perspective on future technology and a dystopian view of our ecological... Read more
Published on 28 Sep 2011 by Peter Bell
3.0 out of 5 stars Damp dystopia with 'high seas' adventure
I've seen Ship Breaker described as a dystopia. Well, it's certainly that, but in some respects there are plenty of people in the so-called developing world who already live this... Read more
Published on 6 Sep 2011 by M. Cantrell
4.0 out of 5 stars Finally a good and believable dystopia novel!
With dystopia almost as the new science fiction, and contemporary reality-based dystopia(1) as one of the most used fads in YA these days, it's hardly surprising that an author... Read more
Published on 15 Aug 2011 by Els De Clercq
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