Posted by : Deborah Takahashi Sunday, May 15, 2011

Plot Summary:
 Nailer is a ship breaker who scavenges ships that have run a ground and collects copper wiring, or anything valuable,  to be sold. His life is not easy since, especially since he has to go through tight spots, which are incredibly dangerous. Nailer belongs to a crew that swear blood oaths that each member will "have each other's backs" whatever the situatioin is. One day, after a big city killer (hurricane), Nailer and Pima see a clipper ship stranded by "the teeth" and find the biggest scavenge they have ever seen and think they have found their lucky strike. However, as the explore the ship, they find a swank (a rich girl), named Nita, alive and Nailer decides to save her rather than let her die. Little does he know, this girl is not just any swank, but Nailer's one way ticket out of Hell. Although it sounds like a good idea, Nailer has to escape the clutches of his doped up father, half men, and the world's strongest ship known as the "Pole Star."

Critical Evaluation:
In this distant future, the world has been destroyed by mother nature. Oil has run out, hurricanes run rampant, and the people are forced to live in the remains of the disaster. The only people who are able to overcome the disasters are those with money, which leave everyone else destitute; poverty is so bad that it has driven people to sell their blood and woman sell their eggs for genetic engineering purposes where human DNA is mixed with animal DNA. Whatever the case, humanity has turned into a Darwinian state where life is no longer seen as precious. Bacigalupi has created a world that is not only our worst nightmare, but has brought "Hell on Earth" to life. However, the hope for humanity lies in the heart of Nailer who not only saves Nita (the Swank), but forces himself to put his own needs aside for the greater good. What readers will learn in this story is no matter how bad things get, there is always hope at the end.

Information about the Author:
Paolo Bacigalupi is not only a well-known science fiction author, he has taken a new direction in his career by writing books for teens. According to the author bio, on his website, "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 short story collection PUMP SIX AND OTHER STORIES was a 2008 Locus Award winner for Best Collection and also named a Best Book of the Year by Publishers Weekly" (para. 2).  Not only is well known for his science fiction novels, but his short stories have are also critically acclaimed: "Paolo Bacigalupi’s writing has appeared in High Country News,, The Magazine of Fantasy and Science Fiction, and Asimov’s Science Fiction Magazine. His short fiction been anthologized in various “Year’s Best” collections of short science fiction and fantasy, nominated for two Nebula Awards and four Hugo Awards, and won the Theodore Sturgeon Memorial Award for best sf short story of the year" (para. 1). Unfortunately, there is not a lot of personal information avilable at Paolo, but he currently lives in Colorado with his wife and son.

Teen Dystopian Thriller

Reading Level/Interest:
Grades 9 & up

Books Similar to Ship Breaker:

Awards & Recognition:
  • ALA Notable Children's Books: 2011
  • Best Fiction for Young Adults: 2011
  • Best Fiction for Young Adults Top Ten: 2011
  • Michael L. Printz Award: 2011
  • National Book Award Finalist: 201o

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Deborah Takahashi
Pasadena, CA, United States
My name is Deb and I am a Librarian who absolutely loves to read and recommend books to teen and tween readers. In this blog, you will find reviews on a variety resources ranging from books, movies, video games, and much more. Please feel free to leave any feedback, especially book recommendations!
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