by Paolo Bacigalupi
After seeing it won the Printz Award, a National Book Award honour, and a great endorsement from the very awesome Hank Green, I knew I had to read it.
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This is a novel that illuminates a world where oil has been replaced by necessity, and where the gap between the haves and have-nots is now an abyss.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.
My Expectations: I really expected it to be amazing, I usually just love Printz books (which sounds silly of me) but I do!
Delivery: Some parts totally blew me away but there were a few that were just eh. But overall, it was wonderful.
Put-down-ability: Bacigalupi doesn't let you go! Haha, 2/10
First and foremost, the world created Bacigalupi is incredible, there’s no other way to say it. It’s far from a utopia, it’s a dangerous and exposed society with harsh social classes and even harsher conditions. Nothing comes easy for people in Nailer’s world, and the savagery displayed is a by-product of the world… or is it the other way around?
Whereas the world-building was phenomenal, the characters were rather weak. Nailer lacked a depth to him that I was expecting, but that’s not saying he isn’t a well rounded character— he is. He has his problems and dreams but it’s just that nothing he did really surprised me, he was just Nailer. And don’t worry, I was behind him one hundred percent.
The swanky (rich) girl he finds, Nita, never drew me in either. I was expecting much more from her, much more scheming and wits, but I just got a girl who went with the flow and talked big. But Pima was awesome, just saying.
What made this novel work, however, was the writing. It’s breathtaking in a gripping kind of way because we’re not floating above clouds in a pile of poetry, readers are right in the mix of things, scavenging a ship, being chased by half-men, fighting or running for their lives. Bacigalupi manages to transport a reader right into the story with fantastic prose and dialogue. The imagery is another element that blew me away; such detailed descriptions formed a perfect picture in my mind, even when that picture was just pure darkness with some faint LED paint.
Ship Breaker is an atmospheric, intense adventure set in a gritty and unpleasant future.
Rating in HP Terms: Exceeds Expectations
Recommended for: Dystopian fans, people who like great writing and intense worlds.
Acknowledgements: I like the whole crew thing going on ;) 4/5
8.4/10 – because I really enjoyed it. It was an adventurous, action-packed race to the finish line set in an intensely broken world. It effortlessly managed to be both heart-pounding and thought-provoking. Though I wished there was more to the characters, I felt the exemplar writing and thrilling plot was enough to keep me captivated till the very end.