Ship Breaker: Number 1 in series Paperback – 7 Jul 2011
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* "This thriller will grab and keep readers' attentions as Nailer and Nita 'crew up' in their fight to survive."-- "The Horn Book", starred review
Award-winning author Paolo Bacigalupi delivers a thrilling, fast-paced adventure set in a vivid and raw, uncertain future.See all Product Description
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Top Customer Reviews
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.Read more ›
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.
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.
Most Recent Customer Reviews
Brilliant work from Mr B as usual. Characters and plot are only slightly removed from this world, so the suspension of belief is light, and the totally plausible. Read morePublished 2 months ago by international
About a youth who works in the Gulf Coast region of the United States with crews of people who dismantle ships for their recyclables. Read morePublished 2 months ago by ellison
A new look for the future, interesting, exciting and packed with adventure. I Can't wait to read his next book.Published 16 months ago by Peter Gurd
Really not as good as Pump 6 and other stories, or the windup girl. Get those instead.Published 17 months ago by Iksrejam
Kinda hard to follow in places; but wonderful dystopian landscapes.Published 22 months ago by O. Sonos
Amazing novel, bought it to for my son to take on our vacation and ended up reading it myself.Published on 4 Aug. 2014 by mark
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 morePublished on 13 May 2014 by Bluekapow
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 morePublished on 9 Oct. 2013 by ferret70