Bacigalupi, Paolo. Ship Breaker. Little, Brown, 2010. 326 pages. ISBN 978-0-316-05621-2
Nailer works as a scavenger for copper wiring on beached oil tankers. He spends his days climbing through poisonous dangerous crawl spaces in order to make a little money to survive because his violent drug addicted father is not use. One day he ends up falling into an oil well in the tanker he was stripping and gets stuck. When his work buddy finds him, she leaves him there to die in hopes that she can claim the oil for herself and get rich. Nailer apparently has a lucky side and finds a way out by breaking through the oil well door and landing in the ocean, oddly enough, in one piece. This means he doesn’t get to claim the oil, his boss does, but at least he is still alive and the work buddy who left him behind is shunned away. Not long after that there is a huge storm that lands a lot of beached ships on their shore. Nailer finds a beached clipper ship with a sole survivor, a young girl about his age. Now Nailer has to decide whether he is going to kill the girl and strip the ship or save the girl and potentially gain a new life. It all depends on whether he can trust the girl or not.
Winner of the Printz Book Award for 2011 as well as Notable Children’s Books, Best Fiction for Young Adults, and Children’s Books of the Year. This young adult dystopian novel is a little different from what you may be used to. The characters of this story are complex, but incredibly realistic and loyalty is one of their main attributes. Nailer is struggling to survive in a dystopian society based solely on harvesting goods from beached oil tankers. He puts himself at risk each day so that he can make a little money to live off of. When he is faced with a difficult decision, his conscience wins out and he can only hope it was the right choice, but it does bring him on a life changing journey that will only add to his character. Morals seem to be fickle things in this story and Nailer seems to have the brunt of them. This trilling adventure will captivate the minds of teen readers and pull them into a vivid world of brutality and hardship that will keep their attention all the way through.
A choice between fortune or saving a girls life your not even sure you can trust. Which would you choose?
Paolo Bacigalupi’s writing has appeared in High Country News, Salon.com, The Magazine of Fantasy and Science Fiction, and Asimov’s Science Fiction Magazine. His short fiction has been anthologized in various “Year’s Best” collections of short science fiction and fantasy. He has been nominated for two Nebula Awards and four Hugo Awards, and won the Theodore Sturgeon Memorial Award for best science fiction short story of the year. His short story collection Pump Six and Other Stories was a Locus Award winner for Best Collection of 2008 and was also named a Best Book of the Year by Publishers Weekly
His debut novel The Windup Girl was named by Time Magazine as one of the ten best novels of 2009, and also won the Hugo, Nebula, Locus, Compton Crook, and John W. Campbell Memorial Awards. His debut young adult novel, Ship Breaker, was a Micheal L. Printz Award Winner, and a National Book Award Finalist. He currently lives in Western Colorado with his wife and son, where he is working on a new novel. (windupstories.com)
Nailer’s life is harsh. But things might have just changed.
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This book won a few awards and made it to the top of several lists. A great dystopian novel that’s kind of unique from other dystopian novels.