Sunday, February 13, 2011

BR: Ship Breaker

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.

Summary (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This is a novel that illuminates a world where oil has been replaced by necessity, and where the gap between the haves and have-nots is now an abyss.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.

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

My Thoughts

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.

source: library


  1. This book is actually waiting for me to pick it up at the library! Sounds like I'll like it :]

  2. Wow, this book sounds awesome! I love books with great world-building. Wonderful review!

  3. Wow, I am now even more excited than ever to pick this one up! Thanks. :) Fantastic review.

  4. Sounds wonderful, I love when writer's make you see. I'll definitely check it out.


  5. I am still unsure about this book. I love the sound of the world but I really need strong characters. Great review though :)

  6. hmmm... hadn't heard of this book before but I'm always on the hunt for well written words. Dystopian has been a really hit or miss with me lately. Maybe I'm getting to worked up over it and seek more adventure. Seems like this book has plenty of that.

    And now I'm super curious about Printz books. ;)

  7. Even though there were parts you didn't absolutely love, I'm glad to hear that you enjoyed it! I have a copy of it on my shelf, so I can't wait to read it!

  8. I read Ship Breaker a while ago. Whenever a vlogbrother recommends a book, BAM, I've ordered it.

    Also, great review.

  9. Texas- thanks :)

    Laura- I hope you do! I'm always so excited to find out a book at the lib finally arrived ;)

    Anna- thank you!

    Cialina- I hope you like it! and thanks! =D

    Alexa- I agree completely :)

    Nic- I know what you mean, I think it wasn't that Nailer was a shallow character, it was just that I was expecting to be more surprised... if that makes any sense. thanks for the comment :)

    Missie- I've always been a big fan of dystopian, so I guess I don't usually have too many complaints about books in that genre. Ship Breaker is pretty dark, so maybe read when you're in the mood :) Oh, and i love Printz Books... may I add Jellicoe Road totally won a few years ago which made me read it and I will have that shiny sticker to forever thank! Oh god, im sorry this response is even longer than your comment!!

    Natalie- Can't wait to hear you thoughts!!

    Dkye- I KNOW RIGHT!!!!! *high five* seriously, that's why I've been DYING to read Anna and teh French Kiss!!! HAHAHA im getting way too excited over your comment, it's the Nerdfighter love. xD

  10. Wow! Our opinions are almost total opposites on this one! I think the one thing we really agreed on was Nailer's character and the fact that something was lacking there.

    Thanks for the review!


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