Friday, October 8, 2010

Review: Ship Breaker by Paolo Bacigalupi

Dystopian literature is a unique genre. It is often a subcategory of fantasy or science fiction which is right up my alley. I’ve always been drawn to “make believe” since I was a kid. It was a place where you could be more and do more. Add a backwards society on top of that other-worldly experience and you’ve got yourself one unique dystopia. In Bacigalupi’s Ship Breaker, The Island of Doctor Moreau meets Pirates of the Caribbean to explore a bleak future of an unprepared people.

In Nailer’s world, the oil is gone and the “accelerated age” with it. With the addition of severe global warming, North America as we know it is forever altered. We find Nailer, a teenage boy on the light crew, stripping grounded oil tankers of wiring and staples by shimmying through ducts. When he finds a grounded clipper ship, a fast high-tech boat owned by the wealthiest “swanks,” Nailer thinks he’s struck the luckiest scavenge strike of all time. But its cargo proves to be even more valuable than the ship and extremely dangerous.

Nailer is faced with many moral and ethical dilemmas. As is the case is real life, answers are not always clear cut. What if no one would ever know about your decisions? What if you could help someone but it meant betraying someone you cared for? Nailer’s belief in loyalty, trust and family is constantly challenged. Through swamps and shanties, over ocean in luxury boats that fly, Nailer scavenges for a new life out of the rubble around him.

There was a lot of action going on but not enough focus on any one theme or relationship. I could appreciate the writing but the third person narration was a little flat for me. I was never caught up in the read or held on edge. I could see what was coming and the journey wasn’t interesting enough to make up for my foreknowledge. That being said, I do think young teenagers, especially boys, might be drawn to this book. It’s a rough and violent world Nailer lives in so be ready for a colorful cast and carnage. Although not particularly memorable for me, Ship Breaker was a fast and fun read.

Publisher: Little, Brown and Company, 2010     Pages: 326     Source: IC Public Library
Rating: 3 Stars     Recommended Age: 14 and up

1 comment:

  1. This one is on my tbr pile and I hope to read it soon. I've heard great things about it, particulary about the story arc. Thanks for the review!