Friday, May 13, 2011

Ship Breaker by Paolo Bacigalupi Review

By Paolo Bacigalupi
May 1, 2010
Little, Brown Books for Young Readers, 336 pages

In America's Gulf Coast region, where grounded oil tankers are being broken down for parts, Nailer, a teenage boy, works the light crew, scavenging for copper wiring just to make quota--and hopefully live to see another day. But when, by luck or chance, he discovers an exquisite clipper ship beached during a recent hurricane, Nailer faces the most important decision of his life: Strip the ship for all it's worth or rescue its lone survivor, a beautiful and wealthy girl who could lead him to a better life. . . .

In this powerful novel, award-winning author Paolo Bacigalupi delivers a thrilling, fast-paced adventure set in a vivid and raw, uncertain future.

— description

This is the first young adult book I've read in a long time -- ever? -- that I'd recommend to my husband. In this book, Paolo Bacigalupi has created a brutal, vivid dystopian world that has a beautiful cinematic quality to it, which I think would really appeal to him (and to a lot of male readers, really).

It was so gritty and imaginative that you could just visualize it all. Cold, filthy, crumbling, merciless...this is not a world you'd want to live in. But it was so well-written that it seemed frighteningly real. 

Something about Ship Breaker felt so unlike the books I normally read, yet I really enjoyed it. I could have done without some of the sci-fi aspects (half-men, half-dog people?), but kudos to Bacigalupi for making such an abrasive work seem appealing to a girl who usually judges a book on how much kissing is involved.

Bonus? It was a National Book Award Finalist and won the Printz Award. So, yeah, pretty good stuff.

You might also like: It's DEFINITELY more girly, but ... The Ugly Series by Scott Westerfield

Anna Reads young adult book blog


  1. I really really want to read this! It is SO HIGH on my TBR list. I'm not sure the *exact* reason it appeals so highly to me, but it just does... Thanks for your thoughts.

  2. Maybe the next time I get this from the library I should read it... :)

  3. Found this at the library shortly after it won the Printz, when i read the synopsis i wasn't very excited but i have a goal of reading all the Printz books (nominees and winners) so i decided to try it anyway. i loved it. You're right, it is more masculine than say, Uglies but it didn't deter me at all. And i don't like sci-fi very much but i was okay with this. i think a lot of it has to do with how well Bacigalupi created his characters. i was so involved with how three dimensional they were and what they were feeling that i didn't really notice the sci-fi stuff. i definitely recommend it.

  4. I felt exactly the same way about this book -- boys would love it because its so dirty and disgusting. But I liked it too...

    Thanks! Great review.

  5. Doggies!

    That said, I desperately want to read this and will have to buy it or library it or something, because I like books that appeal to boys, oddly enough.

  6. Ship Breaker sounds like something I would enjoy reading. Dystopian books are one of my favorite genres, and from your review I gathered this novel is really worth buying. thanks for the review.

    I'm a new GFC follower btw ;)
    Kind regards,
    I Heart Reading

  7. Ship Breaker is just a truly excellent read - for YAs or grown ups! I love the new vernacular that Bacigalupi created, and I was particularly excited about the lack of an overt love story. This book was so inventive, and made even more interesting by the fact that it's actually possible for the future!

  8. OOoh, I've seen this book at the store and wondered, but I knew absolutely nothing about it. Miiight just have to check it out. Thanks for the review, Anna!

  9. I have his Windup Girl on my to-buy list (starting to really like Steampunk), and now here's what sounds like another to add to it! Thanks for the review!

  10. I fell in the middle on this one. The setting certainly went a long way to making the book but I admit the characters weren't as charismatic as I would have liked.

  11. definitely a good ambiguous read. this book certainly had some thing to offer. as dystopians become more prominate in YA, it get harder and harder to find good ones. but ship breaker really stands out as one of the better ones.


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