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--an 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...
Character Development: 10/10
Overall Enjoyment: 8/10
Total Score: 66/70
Age Appropriate? R
Cursing: Quite a bit.
Alcohol, Drugs, etc: Frequent references to and scenes of severe drug and alcohol addiction, drug and alcohol-induced violence, drunkenness, child drinking/drug use, abuse of dangerous substances, etc.
Sexual Content: Frequent references to prostitution, rape, etc.
Disturbing Images/Violence: A lot of blood, fights, graphic murder, child abuse, slavery, etc.
My God, what a ride! To be honest, this book blew away my expectations. I've been hearing some good things about Ship Breaker, and something about the synopsis drew me to the book from the start. (Have I mentioned that this book has one hell of a good synopsis? Just the right amount of plot hints without giving anything important away, and it's short and to the point--but that's a topic for another post.) The point is, this book is good. The very peak of dystopian/sci-fi/post-apocalyptic YA.
One of the most fascinating things about this book, though, is that it's borderline not dystopian or sci-fi. It's almost just an adventure book about the near future. And while Nailer's world is post-apocalyptic, the "apocalypse" these people have survived is not some huge catastrophe, it's the evolution of our own world, a direct result of the way we live now. Yet the point is not only to provide some sort of wake-up call to readers--no, this book is a story. A really good story, too.
It has everything! A plot that will never--hear me, never--give you time to breathe, characters that are so conflicted and real and heartbreakingly honest yet strong at their cores, circumstances that are shocking but so close to reality, and of course, just a touch of romance to carry you through the rest of it. Beautifully done, and probably one of the few young adult books that truly caters to both male and female audiences without fail. Seriously, guys and girls alike will get caught up in the rawness, the sheer intensity, of this awe-inspiring story. I've heard rumors of a sequel. Ah, I hope it's true! This is a world (a downtrodden, miserable world that creepily resembles our own...) that I don't want to see the end of.
Update: There IS in fact a sequel, coming this year, called The Drowned Cities. Yay! :)
Interview with Paolo Bacigalupi about another of his novels, The Windup Girl