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Ship Breaker

by Paolo Bacigalupi

Other authors: See the other authors section.

Series: Ship Breaker (1)

MembersReviewsPopularityAverage ratingMentions
2,9482113,225 (3.86)203
In a futuristic world, teenaged Nailer scavenges copper wiring from grounded oil tankers for a living, but when he finds a beached clipper ship with a girl in the wreckage, he has to decide if he should strip the ship for its wealth or rescue the girl.
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    4leschats: Both stories deal with environmental issues and teen survival
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    Rootless by Chris Howard (wifilibrarian)
    wifilibrarian: Rootless shares several themes and settings with Ship Breaker. Both stories have teen male protagonists with family issues, and both stories are set in future worlds where the environment has collapsed due to human interference. Both include the setting of a future dystopian/post-apocalyptic New Orleans.… (more)
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» See also 203 mentions

English (207)  Hungarian (1)  French (1)  All languages (209)
Showing 1-5 of 207 (next | show all)
This would make an amazing movie! ( )
  carlypancakes | May 28, 2020 |
This is definitely one of my favorite dystopias. I found it original. The world is fascinating and I wanted to know more about the ship breaking itself but I also loved the other part of the story where we got glimpses as to what America is like after the "city killers." I thought Nailer was a very likable and believable main character. Bacigalupi also did a wonderful job of developing the side characters. This is my first time reading Bacigalupi but I am positive I'll be picking up more of his stuff soon. I hear The Wind Up Girl is amazing and I think it might be in my future soon. ( )
  melrailey | Apr 7, 2020 |
Nailer has been working on taking apart ships as long as he can remember. When a storm blows into their ship breaking yard and with it a chance at a new life. When exploring an island, Nailer and his friend Pima find a ship wreck of a rich person ship. They find no one alive on board, but they find a girl that says she can make their life better. That is when is dad finds out and takes control of the operation. After that Nailer escapes with the girl to find her parents. Tool, a half-man comes along to help Nailer. When they reach New Orleans , Nailer's father kidnaps her, Nailer then sets out to save her. ( )
  CErickson.ELA4 | Jan 14, 2020 |
Before starting this I'd read some reviews that stated the first half was dull, some saying it was tedious and only marginally improved in the closing, yet some others saying it was excellent.

So going in my expectations weren't particularly high, however I was pleased to find I was in the latter camp. The beginning of the book paints a harsh dystopian world where the community survives by risking life and limb dismantling old ships in a manner that would make occupational health & safety managers faint.

This world it paints is harsh, competitive and unforgiving. Then as events unfolds we learn that outside of this community not everyone is doing it so tough, that in fact there is extreme wealth inequality. This is driven home when the protagonist, Nailer, stumbles upon a recently wrecked ship filled with a fortune in salvage, and so the story takes off as he encounters a living member of the crew.

I enjoyed the story and thought the touch of realism added by using a potential future scenario should human environmental damage go unchecked was and added bonus, I particularly enjoyed the closing chase on the clipper ships and felt the ending brought the book to a nice close whilst leaving plenty of opportunities for the story to expand in the following book. ( )
  HenriMoreaux | Sep 20, 2019 |
Excellent book, but despite it being very fast-paced, I found it easy to put down. I'm not sure why. The characters were all multi-faceted and interesting; the mild romance was believable; the writing was impeccable; the plot was very exciting and (mostly) unpredictable; and the setting was lush and very well thought out. I really am not sure why it was that this book didn't grab me the way it should have. Maybe it was too fast-paced for me? There was a lot of repetitive conversations that kind of bugged me, but not in a huge way. I'm grasping at straws here. ( )
  akbooks | Sep 12, 2019 |
Showing 1-5 of 207 (next | show all)
Bacigalupi is a highly acclaimed adult sci-fi writer, and Ship Breaker won last year's prestigious Printz award for young-adult fiction in the US. It's a taut, disciplined novel, moving with tremendous coiled energy and urgency. I found it a tad colourless in places, but Nailer is a fine hero, complicated and questioning, always wondering whether he's doomed to inherit his father's failings or whether he can make his own destiny.

Which is, of course, the essential question of every dystopia. And basically the essential question of every teenager, too. Why do teenagers like dystopias? Simple. They're looking for proof that there's a way to survive the one in which they're already living.

» Add other authors (8 possible)

Author nameRoleType of authorWork?Status
Paolo Bacigalupiprimary authorall editionscalculated
Caplan, DavidDesignersecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Foster, JonCover artistsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Horváth, NorbertTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Swaab, NeilCover artistsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Swanson, JoshuaNarratorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Warner, BobCover artistsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed

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Nailer clambered through a service duct, tugging at copper wire and yanking it free.
The blood bond was nothing. It was the people that mattered. If they covered your back, and you covered theirs, then maybe that was worth calling family. Everything else was just so much smoke and lies. (p. 274)
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Even at night, the wrecks glowed with work. The torch lights flickered, bobbing and moving. Sledge noise rang across the water. Comforting sounds of work and activity, the air tanged with the coal reek of smelters and the salt fresh breeze coming off the water. It was beautiful.

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.


Set initially in a future shanty town in America's Gulf Coast region, where grounded oil tankers are being disassembled for parts by a ragtag group of workers, we meet Nailer, a teenage boy working the light crew, searching for copper wiring to make quota and live another day. The harsh realities of this life, from his abusive father to his hand-to-mouth existence, echo the worst poverty in the present-day third world.

When an accident leads Nailer to discover an exquisite clipper ship beached during a recent hurricane, and the lone survivor, a beautiful and wealthy girl, Nailer finds himself at a crossroads. Should he strip the ship and live a life of relative wealth, or rescue the girl, Nita, at great risk to himself and hope she'll lead him to a better life. This is a novel that illuminates a world where oil has been replaced by necessity, and where the gap between the haves and have-nots is now an abyss. Yet amidst the shadows of degradation, hope lies ahead.

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Average: (3.86)
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2 28
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3 178
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