Friday, May 20, 2011

Book Review: Ship Breaker by Paolo Bacigalupi

Hey! Look at me - posting again. Must mean we finally have internets at our new apartment. And I'm still alive (apparently).

Ship Breaker by Paolo Bacigalupi
Publisher: Little, Brown Books for Young Readers
Publication date: May 2010
ISBN: 9780316056212
Source: Library (though I should totally buy it)

Ship Breaker

Nailer has never had much, working on a ship-breaking crew, trying to avoid being beaten by his drunken father.  But, when he happens on a lucky discovery, he has the chance to have everything.  This chance, however, rests on a decision between stripping a rich ship or saving a rich girl from the ship.  Is Nailer willing to risk everything on the chance that this girl could change the course of his life?

Things I Liked:
Wow.  This is dystopian literature at its finest, I think.  In rich, vivid, and totally engrossing language, Bacigalupi has created a future world where the divide between haves and have nots is so wide it seems impossible to breach.  Nailer's world is so horrifying and so realistically portrayed, it almost makes me think that it was based in reality.  You get a real sense of what they feel, touch, even breathe from his gorgeous writing.  Which doesn't even get into the fascinating story that is told in its pages.  The action is fantastic and I really loved the characters, particularly Pima and Nita.  A fascinating and terrifying future world that seems like it might just be our future.  Totally deserving of the Printz award it won, in my opinion.  Here are a few of my favorite parts:

It was as if the Scavenge God had come amongst the ships, slashing and chopping, dicing the huge iron vessels into pieces, and then left the corpses scattered carelessly behind  And wherever the huge ships lay, scavenge gangs like Nailer's swarmed like flies.  Chewing away at iron meat and bones.  Dragging the old world's flesh up the beach to the scrap weighing scales and the recycling smelters that burned 24-7 for the profit of Lawson & Carlson, the company that made all the cash from the blood and sweat of the ship breakers. p 6-7
Now, though, the dark reek of the oil room filled his mind - the memory of being up to his neck in warm death staring up at Sloth high above him, her little LED paint mark glowing - salvation if only he could convince her, if only he could reach out and touch that part of her that cared for something other than herself, knowing that there was a lever inside her somewhere, and if only he could pull it, she would go for help and he would be saved and everything would be fine.  p 99
Dozens of futures extended ahead of him, depending on his luck and the will of the Fates...and the variable that this girl presented.  He could see those roads spinning away from him in different directions.  He was standing at their hub, looking down each of them in turn, but he could see only so far, one or two steps ahead at best.  p 111
Things I Didn't Like:
I kinda wanted a little more info, mostly about Tool.  He felt like an enigma the whole time, a wild card that conveniently arrived to help them out and then disappeared when he wasn't needed anymore.  I couldn't figure him out.  Also, the ending was a little too neat and clean for the way the rest of the story felt - harsh, gritty, painful.  Still, like I said, one of the best dystopians I've read!

The Maze Runner and The Scorch Trials by James Dashner

Chaos Walking trilogy by Patrick Ness
Hunger Games trilogy by Suzanne Collins

s-factor: !@
throughout but no f-bombs

mrg-factor: X
mostly implied stuff, nothing descriptive

v-factor: ->->->->
quite a bit, some rather gory 

Overall rating: *****

Seriously, if you love dystopian stuff, get your hands on this. You won't be sorry!

If you buy through my Amazon linkage, I will get a very small percentage


  1. K, that's it! I'm reading this one.

  2. Awesome book! This is one of my favorite dystopian stories. Glad you enjoyed it.

  3. YES, Jenny, I hope you like it :)

    Susan, must have been some of your influence in me picking it up finally!

  4. I found you on the Printz Award Challenge page. I liked this book, too. Here's my review:

    *New follower

  5. Anne, I'll have to check out your review. This was such a fantastic book!


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