Wednesday, April 20, 2011

Ship Breaker

Title: Ship Breaker
Author: Paolo Bacigalupi
Genre: YA, Science Fiction
Published: 2010

Recommendation: Top notch dystopian science fiction with a great protagonist.
Rating: 9/10

Summary: Nailer works on the light crew, which means he gets to climb through ducts in an old oil tanker and collect the unused wiring. It's hard work, but he is better off than many others living on the shore and struggling to survive. However, one large coastal storm will change Nailer's life.

Reactions: I have heard many good things about Ship Breaker and was looking forward to the book since I enjoyed The Windup Girl a whole lot. There are some similarities between the two. One is the dystopian future with large corporations taking control, widespread poverty, and climate change. Also there are some rather grim scenes in Ship Breaker. But at the same time, this is not a depressing book, there's hope in it, and that makes the reading it enjoyable.

Nailer is a teenage boy and the main protagonist who gets the readers' sympathies early in the book. He is resourceful, lucky, and surprisingly very upstanding for his environment. Nailer's struggles in the book are easy to relate to and his mix of naivete and shrewdness makes him a very layered hero.

The book itself kept pace very well, there's plenty of action, but enough exposition to bring out the world and the characters as well. The language in the book is intended for younger audience, but the writing doesn't compromise -- it's well-written and readable. Few authors are able to hit the balance so well. One element I found surprising was that the book ended much faster than I expected. On e-book the progress in the book is less obvious and I was actually a bit surprised when the book ended. I really wish it had been longer.

All in all, Ship Breaker really lived up to its hype and I will be eagerly awaiting more books by Paolo Bacigalupi.


  1. 9 stars?!? That's a big deal coming from you. I've yet to show up to the Bacigalupi party thought I own The Wind-up Girl. First things first I guess...

    What is the title in reference to?

  2. The job that Nailer works is basically part of a crew responsible for breaking apart old oil tanker and salvaging parts of it. Hence the ship breaker. Though there are some more subtle meanings to the title best discussed after the book is read :)