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Home » Authors, Doll Desilula, Paolo Bacigalupi, Reviewers, Reviews

Tween Review: Ship Breaker by Paolo Bacigalupi

Submitted by on May 20, 2011 – 2:08 pm5 Comments

Post Written by Doll Desilula

Author: Paolo Bacigalupi
Book: Ship Breaker
Release: July 7, 2011
Series: Novel
Source: Personal Library
Purchase: – Book Depository

In America’s Gulf Coast region, where grounded oil tankers are being broken down for parts, Nailer, a teenage boy, works the light crew, scavenging for copper wiring just to make quota–and hopefully live to see another day. But when, by luck or chance, he discovers an exquisite clipper ship beached during a recent hurricane, Nailer faces the most important decision of his life: Strip the ship for all it’s worth or rescue its lone survivor, a beautiful and wealthy girl who could lead him to a better life. . . .

In this powerful novel, award-winning author Paolo Bacigalupi delivers a thrilling, fast-paced adventure set in a vivid and raw, uncertain future.

I was drawn to this book because several of the authors that I respect had said amazing things about it. To be honest, I am still not sure exactly how I feel about this book. I don’t know if I like it, love it, or dislike it all together. I guess it is all three…

Ship Breaker is a YA book like no other. It is gritty and emotional in ways that are even darker than other dystopian books of late like The Hunger Games. Where Ship Breaker differs is in the way it is told and the strange characters that the author has created.

Never before in a YA novel have I seen such an excellent display of layered characters. NONE and I mean NONE of them are all good or bad. Sure, there are definitely some that are down right evil at times, but the world in which the characters live is so grim that the survival instincts of the people forces them all to be selfish and mean just to make it through the day. It’s almost like the humanity has become diluted in these future generations and they behave like animals…eating their young so to speak.

Our hero Nailer, is a boy that bears the scars of hardship and strife both physically and emotionally. His father is a good for nothing son of a gun that is abusive toward Nailer. Yet, in some circles his Father is respected and feared because of his reputation. Nailer fears his father and at the same time you can feel that underneath it all he can’t help but care for the man…abusive or not.

The other characters we meet at the beginning of the book are like Nailer in the sense that they all come from a bad place and are working their butts off to make a living. The living comes from diving and salvaging wrecked ships and scrapping them for money. They work in crews, and one would think that with the danger they put themselves in every day that at least they could depend on their crew to back them up…but not in this world. No one can be trusted and just about everyone will sell you out if it might make them look better. It is a depressing world.

When Nailer makes a “Lucky Strike” and discovers oil and copper wiring it looks like his luck may be changing. Especially when Nailer rescues a girl –who is very different from the girls he has seen– on a wrecked ship. When she promises to reward him if he can return her to her family, Nailer is hopeful. However, Nailer’s old man has other plans and would kill his son and anyone else that stands in his way to achieve his goals.

I’d like to say that it gets a little brighter, but it pretty much stays dark and depressing throughout. That being said, I can not wait for the next book in this series. Call me crazy! The book is so well written and oddly poetic that I can’t help but want more. At the same time…I definitely will need some cheerier and more upbeat books to read before the next book in the Ship Breaker series hits book shelves.

Also Reviewed By: – Vulpes Libris

Desilula is our resident "Tween" who helps give us insight to all the Young adult and children's books from the perspective of....well...a young adult. She loves to read and write and absolutely hates math! Her favorite books include classics like "Little Women" and "Alice in Wonderland", but she is hip with all the latest young adult books including her favorite, "Hunger Games"! She enjoys hanging out with friends and doing activities like swimming, skate boarding, climbing trees, and performing in plays or musicals. She plays a little piano, and a little guitar (mostly power chords;)) and has played in a band. She loves animals and plans to travel the world someday!
Doll Desi
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  • Rachel Stark says:

    Hi Desilula,

    Great post! You picked up on what of the things I loved most about SHIP BREAKER, too — the incredibly well-rounded characters. It's so refreshing to get a villain who's nonetheless human.

    I can't wait for book 2, either!


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  • Day says:

    Great review Desi!

    Reply to this comment »
  • Kristin says:

    This sounds incredibly interesting. Must. Read. Next.

    Reply to this comment »
  • Noa says:

    Great review Desi! I think I'll wait ti see if the next one gets a bit lighter :D

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  • Desilula says:

    It is a super dark book but totally consuming and though provoking.

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