About Me

Musings of a hopeful wanderer.

Wednesday, May 4, 2011

Book Review: Paolo Bacigalupi's "Ship Breaker"

This was my second-ever Young Adult novel and, after having just come down from my "Hunger Games" high, was a little disappointing.

The story is about young Nailer, a pre-teen boy who lives in the Gulf Coast working as a ship breaker.  Presumably set sometime in the near-ish future, the combination of hurricanes and the rising tides of global warming have all but drowned the Gulf.  The United States no longer has a need for the huge oil tankers that currently line our coasts, which has resulted in near-crippling poverty for the people of the Gulf.  To make ends meet and to cultivate materials for the changing U.S. infrastructure, ship breakers tear down the tankers for parts.  It's backbreaking and dangerous work.

One day after a particularly bad hurricane, "city killers," Nailer and his best friend Pima stumble upon a clipper, a large, luxurious boat, probably a yacht.  In the boat, they find another young, extraordinarily rich girl, and are faced with the dilemma of killing her and selling her boat for scavenge or saving her life and risking their own.

The story itself was good and interesting.  I like Nailer and found that Bacigalupi gave him a lot of depth.  The last 2/3 of the book, though, felt very rushed and even out of place.  It seems like Bacigalupi didn't have a clear sense of what he wanted to happen, or he couldn't narrow it down, so he kind of just threw it all in there.

As the winner of the 2010 Printz award, this book was by no means poorly written, however if Bacigalupi could've edited himself a little more, I would have found the ending more cohesive and, ultimately, satisfying.

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