Wednesday, October 20, 2010

review: Ship Breaker by Paolo Bacigalupi

release date: May 1, 2010
publisher: Little, Brown Books for Young Readers
pgs: 323
content: very gritty world, violence
source: ARC at PLA

blurb from goodreads:
Set initially in a future shanty town in America's Gulf Coast region, where grounded oil tankers are being dissembled for parts by a rag tag group of workers, we meet Nailer, a teenage boy working the light crew, searching for copper wiring to make quota and live another day. The harsh realities of this life, from his abusive father, to his hand to mouth existence, echo the worst poverty in the present day third world. When an accident leads Nailer to discover an exquisite clipper ship beached during a recent hurricane, and the lone survivor, a beautiful and wealthy girl, Nailer finds himself at a crossroads. Should he strip the ship and live a life of relative wealth, or rescue the girl, Nita, at great risk to himself and hope she'll lead him to a better life. This is a novel that illuminates a world where oil has been replaced by necessity, and where the gap between the haves and have-nots is now an abyss. Yet amidst the shadows of degradation, hope lies ahead.

Wow. Such an amazing book! The future world that Bacigalupi creates is brutal and harsh and all about survival. Nailer's journey as a character is great. At the beginning he's all about himself and his committment to his crew, or "family." And yet through his experiences it becomes not all about himself. His world view changes and it's awesome to watch that happen.

I love dystopic/horrific future novels. I'm not so sure why they appeal to me so much except that there is such world building involved. It's cool to see a world that I know and am familiar with tweeked in such a way that I don't know it anymore. And this one is totally awesome, in a sort of disheartening way. As Nailer travels to the New Orleans area, seeing how things have changed and people have adapted to the change is sad. It's a harsh world that Nailer knows, but he does good. He overcomes. And that is awesome.

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