Ship Breaker by Paolo Bacigalupi

Ship Breaker CoverThe blood bond was nothing. It was the people that mattered. If they covered your back, and you covered theirs, then maybe that was worth calling family. Everything else was just so much smoke and lies. P. 274

I have finally begun to go through all the YA books I bought last year that have been sitting on my shelf, waiting patiently for me to read them. After finishing up my last paper of the semester, I wanted to read something COMPLETELY different than the two novels I researched and wrote on. I thought Ship Breaker would be a good choice, and it turns out I was right! Bacigalupi certainly earned those two prestigious stickers on the cover of this book. I can see the appeal for both the Printz and the National Book Award (of which this novel was a finalist).

Nailer and Pima are infectiously likeable, multi-dimensional characters. They have both grown up in the bleakest of places: Bright Sands Beach, the shipyard. Nailer is a ship breaker on light crew–he scurries through big, landed, oil tankers taking copper, wiring, and whatever other light materials he can scavenge. Nailer and Pima are on the same crew–all crews swear a blood oath to protect one another. All of Nailer’s former knowledge and assumptions about blood bonds, family, even genetic destiny are challenged when he meets Lucky Girl–a “swank” from Boston who survived a “city killer” hurricane and is faced with the impossible choice of stealing her jewels, worth more than what he’d make in a lifetime of ship breaking (enough to escape his terrible father) or saving her life, which could be the scavenge of a century…if she’s not lying about who she is. Ship Breaker is an incredibly sophisticated look at our world, what our world could be in the midst of the destructive effects of climate change. It’s not your average YA dystopia or science fiction novel. It’s grimy, gritty, real, but also incredibly enjoyable to read. In fact, I couldn’t stop reading this once I’d started–I HAD to finish it in one night. I recommend Ship Breaker to those who are looking to read something a little different this summer. It would also make for a good companion book to read before watching Mad Max: Fury Road coming out soon!!!!


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