Ship Breaker by Paolo Bacigalupi

Set in the perhaps not-so-distant Gulf Coast future, Nailer’s job is to strip beached shipwrecks of copper wiring and other valuables. A hot, dirty, extremely difficult life, Nailer’s job is only safe as long as he is small enough to crawl through a ship’s ducts – after that, he’s left to starve. One day, after a “city-killer” storm ravages Nailer’s beach, he and fellow crew member, Pima, discover a rich girl clinging to life in a wrecked, expensive, clipper ship. Nailer is faced with a choice: save the girl, or scavenge her for a profit.

What I liked best about this book was that I could totally see it happening. With the way our environment continues to deteriorate, it made complete sense that the Gulf would turn into a wasteland where old wrecks are harvested for valuable metals. I also thought that the significant class division — Nailer’s extremely poor class and the “Swank” upperclass — was believable. Aside from social commentary, Ship Breaker brings the action. Nailer is nearly always faced with a life or death decision, and must frequently choose between doing what’s right and what will make money. While at times the plot was predictable, it was an exciting read with a very creative dystopian/sci-fi setting. It also won the Printz!

*Printz Award Winner

*National Book Award Finalist

Rating: 3.5/5

For full analysis (including flags and SPOILERS) click here


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