Ship Breaker (book, Paolo Bacigalupi, 2011)


FOUR STARS

Author: Paolo Bacigalupi

Publisher: Atom

Set in a world similar to that of Bacigalupi’s award-winning The Windup Girl, Ship Breaker posits a grim dystopia of runaway climate change, where the rich are blessed with technology and luxury, while the poor grub about in the ruins of the old world

Nailer toils on the jungle-fringed beaches of the Southern US, stripping ships left over from the Accelerated Age, hoping that one day he will land a “Lucky Strike”, and buy his way into the high life. After a storm a wrecked clipper ship seems to present such an opportunity, but Nailer finds himself dragged into a corporate rebellion.

Ship Breaker lacks The Windup Girl’s complexity and adult themes, as befits a YA title, but it has more than its fair share of adventure. It poses a satisfying number of moral questions on slavery, duty, class and family, while Nailer is believably rough yet sympathetic. Richly described, Ship Breaker is an excellent YA, and more than compelling enough to satisfy older readers.

Did you know?

Bacigalupi wrote The Windup Girl and Shipbreaker at the same time, alternating working on them.

 

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