323 pgs (Ship Breaker series #1)
Paolo Bacigalupi’s Ship Breaker is the first in his young adult dystopian fiction series. It takes place about 100 years into the future, and is set along the Gulf Coast after the ice caps have melted, the ocean levels have risen to drown cities like Houston and New Orleans, the government has broken down, and the gulf between the “haves” and the “have nots” has grown exponentially.
Nailer is a teenage ship breaker. He works on a crew salvaging valuable materials off of now-defunct oil tankers. His father is an abusive and murderous drug addict, his mother is dead, and Nailer is barely able to survive from day to day. The only way things will ever change for him is if he comes across a Lucky Strike, a piece of jewelry, a barrel of oil, or anything else that would allow him to buy his way out of his current station.
His Lucky Strike may have finally arrived when Nailer comes across a wrecked luxury ship the day after a hurricane. The lone survivor is a teenage girl, the uber-rich daughter of one of the richest men left in the world. Nita is in terrible danger and Nailer finds himself caught between letting her die and claiming the ship and all its valuables as his, or rescuing her and risking spending the rest of his life slaving away on tankers.
I became a fan of Bacigalupi when I read The Water Knife a few months ago. That book impressed me with the way he took the problems of today, and followed them to a logical and dismal future, if left unchanged. He does the same thing, only for a potentially younger audience with Ship Breaker. It’s an intelligent and compelling start to a series and I’m looking forward to what comes next.
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