Home > Senior Fiction, Uncategorized, Young Adult > Ship Breaker by Paolo Bacigalupi

Ship Breaker by Paolo Bacigalupi

Ship Breaker by Paolo Bacigalupi. Pub. Atom Books, 2011.

Very appropriate book to review as we have a ship grounded on a reef off our shores at the moment and this novel is equally dramatic.

Set in the future when oil has gone but still extremely valuable if you can find it even in small amounts. The great oil tankers of yesteryear have been beached and crews of scavengers live off the rotting hulks stripping them of everything that can be turned into money.

Nailer is a skinny but tough boy who scavenges the ships for a boss who is ruthless. Everybody is ruthless and seems to live by the maxim that “it’s human nature to tear one another apart”.

Society consists of two groups, the ultra wealthy who are known as Swanks, and the rest who have different degrees of poverty not unlike Dickensian times. Everybody is waiting for that big break that will make them rich.

Nailer strikes lucky. After a storm he finds a new clipper type ship wrecked on the shore and he is first there for scavengers rights. But he has to have muscle to hold it and he doesn’t. He finds a Swank girl alive on board and she becomes his ticket to a wealthy life.

Will he make it? Nailer has been treated cruelly by his father and people around him but he has a humanity that saves this book from being a doom and gloom look at the future.

I really enjoyed it. There is action, drama and much to ponder about some of the ethical and environmental issues that are affecting this planet. A US National Book Award Finalist for 2010 and deservedly so.

High school and young adult in appeal but some good Intermediate readers could handle it.

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