book review: ship breaker

Photo Credit: Sect by Kris Krug

Paolo Bacigalupi’s YA novel Ship Breaker is all sorts of awesome. Nailer is a kid who works on a light crew stripping salvage from the long-abandoned oil tankers in the Gulf of Mexico. He and everyone he knows lives out on the beach at the whims of the corporations who’ll buy salvage and the many layers of power between them. Nailer and his best friend make an extremely lucky find but instead of just collecting on it, Nailer does something stupid and saves a rich girl’s life.

The world of Ship Breaker is rusty and painful. Nailer’s dad is terribly abusive, and in that off-balancing way I recognize from real people’s stories, not just fiction. But Nailer saves him from a city-wrecking storm, because he’s family. It’s a post-oil world seen from the point of view of people who have no real say in the forces that shape their lives, except for how they can adapt themselves. The book is filled with cool ideas, culturally mashed-up names and diamond-hulled sailing ships. It’s great, and it doesn’t end on a terrible cliffhanger for a trilogy. Highly recommended.

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