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Ship Breaker: Number 1 in series Paperback – 7 Jul 2011

4.0 out of 5 stars 27 customer reviews

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Frequently bought together

  • Ship Breaker: Number 1 in series
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  • The Drowned Cities: Number 2 in series (Ship Breaker)
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  • The Water Knife
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Product details

  • Paperback: 336 pages
  • Publisher: Atom (7 July 2011)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1907411100
  • ISBN-13: 978-1907411106
  • Product Dimensions: 13 x 2.1 x 19.7 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (27 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 273,084 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
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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

Book Description

Award-winning author Paolo Bacigalupi delivers a thrilling, fast-paced adventure set in a vivid and raw, uncertain future.

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Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
Kinda hard to follow in places; but wonderful dystopian landscapes.
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Format: Kindle Edition
Cracking start. Confused directionless middle. Gets better for a bit, then ends abruptly and unsatisfactorily.

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.
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Format: Hardcover
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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By Ed.F VINE VOICE on 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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Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
A good read but not, I eventually realised, for me.

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.
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