Author: Paolo Bacigalupi
Publisher: Little, Brown
Publication Date: May 1, 2010
Series: Ship Breaker #1
Links: Amazon | Goodreads
In America’s 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, by luck or chance, 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....
The story is good, but the plot pacing feels a bit slow and tedious in some places. Like some of the conversations, there are parts in the story line when I want things to just move on a bit quicker. The setting and world building, though, are fantastic. The imagery is vivid without being overdone, and it's really easy to imagine this eroding world. And it might not be far off from a future reality. (True fact: Louisiana loses nearly a football field of coastal land every half hour.)
There's some interesting content in Ship Breaker as well. People of all sorts of races intermingle without issue, but the world has started infusing human DNA with that of animals to create a sort of slave race. It's a really creepy addition to the story, and it allows the book to raise some fundamental questions regarding humanity, nature/instincts, and independence of thought and actions. There's also a good bit of violence, so if that's something that would bother you then you may want to skip this one. But the violent stuff is included in such a way that it ties in with the nature/instincts and survival motifs.
Overall, I like Ship Breaker but don't really love it. There are a lot of things about it that I find to be really clever. I love the world building. The characters and the story line are good. My one real complaint is that there are some parts that do seem to drag a bit. But I can definitely see why it won the Printz and Locus awards. I'd recommend it to those looking for something that's different, with some depth to it, and a bit of adventure.