Sunday, January 30, 2011

Ship Breaker by Paolo Bacigalupi

Nailer works as a Ship Breaker.  He scavenges copper and other metals from wrecked ships.  Life is very hard in the Gulf Coast region, especially for Nailer who not only must do dangerous work but also then go home to his drug addicted and abusive father.  After a terrible storm that leaves many of the workers on the beach dead, Nailer discovers a wrecked clipper ship.  Inside he finds a rich girl, Nita, who promises him great rewards if Nailer can get her back to her father.  Nailer decides to take the risk in the hopes of a big payoff, but his father finds out about Nita too, and now both Nailer and Nita are on the run.

Ship Breaker won the Printz Award this year.  I didn't feel very strongly about the Printz Award this year.  I did last year.  There were several books I thought were absolutely amazing and wanted them to be recognized.  They weren't.  I was disappointed.  But this year, while I read a number of very good books, I wasn't totally blown away by anything, with the exception of Monsters of Men, the third book in the Chaos Walking series by Patrick Ness, which did not get recognized.  That series is amazing, why did it not get more attention?

Anyway, so Ship Breaker won.  And it was good, definitely.  Exciting, adventure-y, dystopia-y.  Nailer was a complex, well thought-out character who struggles constantly with what to do.  He's grown up in a certain way and in a certain place that heavily influences his decisions, but despite this he goes against his instincts because it doesn't seem right.

I liked that I got an understanding of what the world was like.  I do so like to understand the world, especially in dystopias.  This was our world in the future, after the ice caps have melted and the weather patterns have dramatically changed.  There's the swank world and Nailer's world.  There are also half-men (like in Bloodtide), genetically created creatures that are mixtures of people and animals.  I actually would have liked to know more about that aspect of the world.

It was well written.  It was good.  It did not blow me away.  I had no problem putting the book down and going off to do something else and returning to it later.  It did not pull me in.  I didn't feel like it was anything especially new.  It's a future dystopia where there is a wide gap between rich and poor.  Rich girl meets poor boy they have to work together to stay alive.  Friendship and loyalty are highly prized.  Everyone has to have a "crew" who swear to protect each other and watch each other's backs (like in Incarceron).

I often don't agree with the Printz committee.  Was this the best book I've read all year?  No, I wouldn't say so.  But it was a good book and kids who like dystopia novels and adventure will love this.

1 comment:

  1. I couldn't agree more - fine, but not best of the year.


Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...