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Friday, June 11, 2010

"Ship Breaker" by Paolo Bacigalupi (Reviewed by Cindy Hannikman)

Visit Paolo Bacigalupi's Official Website Here
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Author Introduction: Paolo Bacigalupi is most known for his works such as Pump Six and Other Stories and The Windup Girl. He is a Nebula Award nominee, a four time Hugo nominee for best novelette and is the winner of the Thomas Sturgeon Award and the Locus Award.

Overview: On the Gulf coast of America there are multiple grounded oil tankers that have been washed ashore and left there to rust. Instead of leaving the ships there, various crews work around the clock to shred the tankers and take any salvageable parts. These parts are shipped off to big name companies to be used in various other areas of work. As the years go on, the demand put on these crews grows and grows. The work that is done by these crews is anything but easy. It ranges from tearing metal scraps to finding copper wire in dark cramped areas of the ships.

Nailer is a young teenage boy and like the rest of the kids that work and live around the Gulf coast he is a member of a light crew. His job is to squeeze into tight spaces and find what copper he can. His biggest fear is that he'll eventually grow to big to continue the job and then what will happen to him. For in his village it is everyone for themselves. Everyone is looking for their change to get out of there. There is no loyalty to anyone no matter what they may have done in the past for you?

Until one day when a fancy clipper ship washes ashore after a terrible city crushing storm. Nailer and his friend, Pima find the ship that is filled with enough jewels and salvageable parts that they could live like kings and queens. While searching the clipper the two teenagers come across a rich young girl who is fighting for her life. A decision must be made to either leave her there to die or to save her life? Nailer has always been lead to believe that it's every one for themselves but what about loyalty?

Format: Ship Breaker, is a dark YA novel that is set in a world that has been devastated by a hurricane. It's a much "older" YA novel due to the amount of violent interactions and fights that encounter but could easily be read by 12/14 year olds and up. It stands at 323 pages. It was released May 1, 2010 by Little Brown Books for Young Readers. It was nominated for the YALSA Best Fiction for Young Adults Award.

Analysis: Having never read any of Paolo Bacigalupi's previous works I went into this book with no expectations. What I walked out with was an amazingly detailed, thought provoking, action packed YA novel that really stands out from the rest of the books on the shelf.

From the first couple of pages of Ship Breaker, Bacigalupi really outlines what the life and conditions are like on the Gulf coast. There's nothing left to the imagination. It's rough, hard, and a bit bleak world. The descriptions are not so over the top that it became unbelievable but it was done in such a way that it was clear to the reader what was going on. On the reverse when the book takes a look into the "Swank" lifestyle and how the world is over there it is just as descriptive and clear the readers. A very nice portrayals of a multi-layered world.

While the bad guys in this novel are clearly bad, and the good are good, it's the main character Nailer that really seals the deal of this novel. He has a hard time really believing that loyalty is so hard to come by. He has decisions that would be easy for any other person in the world to make yet he has a hard time deciding what is right and what is best for his situation.

Nailer is instantly attractive to the readers and there are many situations that he gets himself into that I found to be a bit of nail biters. For example, Nailer falls into a room filled with oil and he can't get out. He must seek the help of one of his crew members who is trying to take his job away from him. There were a few times I was really rooting along for Nailer and getting frustrated with the character's reaction to the situation.

I really think every person is going to take something away from this novel, there are so many different ways and thoughts that it invokes. There are the thoughts of a confused child who doesn't know the boundaries of what is right or wrong, there is the whole plot line of this savage village that is living on it's own and separated from the world and working for major corporations that are taking their money. There is just so much that is portrayed in this novel without screaming "I'm a thought provoking book".

Don't let the thought provoking aspect get to you though. There are plenty of action, fighting and character interactions that make this book a quick read. If you're looking for a novel that will pack a punch but keep the reader thinking, Ship Breaker is the novel for you. An amazing YA novel.


Charlotte said...

This one is high up on my tbr list---I'm glad you liked it, because now I shall anticipate it more!

Cindy said...

I can't wait to hear what you have to say on it!

It was something I wasn't used to reading as a lot of my previous books are high fantasy so it was a refreshing change.

I read this book rather quickly and not because it was so quick and glossed over it was I wanted to know what was going on or going to happen :)

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