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Ship Breaker by Paolo Bacigalupi
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Ship Breaker (edition 2010)

by Paolo Bacigalupi

MembersReviewsPopularityAverage ratingMentions
2,3181912,725 (3.87)184
Member:roundballnz
Title:Ship Breaker
Authors:Paolo Bacigalupi
Info:Little, Brown Books for Young Readers (2010), Edition: 1, Hardcover, 336 pages
Collections:Your library, 2012 Reads
Rating:****
Tags:None

Work details

Ship Breaker by Paolo Bacigalupi

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    4leschats: Both stories deal with environmental issues and teen survival
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    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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CAUTION: MAY CONTAIN SPOILERS

Nailer, a small-framed teenage boy, is scavenging through an old rusty ship for copper wire. As he crawls through the darkness looking for scavenge to make quota, he dreams of traveling through the bright blue waters of the flooded oceans on a speeding clipper ship. While gathering copper wires, Nailer falls through the duct and lands in a deep pool of oil. Sloth, another member of the light crew, finds Nailer in the oil pocket, but decides to leave him to die because she wants Nailer's job. Luckily, Nailer is able to escape the oil and washes up on the beach. On the way out, Nailer is impaled by a rusty piece of metal. He survives.
A storm arrives shortly after Nailer's father, Richard, passes out due to too much drugs. Sadna, Pima's mother, helps wake Richard up and saves him from the storm. After two nights, the storm finally subsides. Nailer and Pima decide to check the beach for scavenge. They find a massive clipper ship stranded on the beach. With a lot of hesitation, the two Light Crew teenagers save the only survivor of the ship, Nita, whom is nicknamed "Lucky Girl" by Nailer, since she survived the shipwreck. After Nailer saves Nita, Richard wants to kill the girl and steal the scavenge. Pima lunges at Richard with a knife, but is overpowered. Richard decides to show mercy because Pima's mother, Sadna, had saved him from the storm. Knowing that there might be a reward for returning Nita to her father or uncle, Richard decides to spare her. Soon after, Nailer becomes sick and sleeps for 3 days.
"Lucky Girl" eventually tells Pima and Nailer the truth: she ran away to safety because her uncle, who wishes to sell illegal "tar sand", aims to use her as leverage against her father. Nailer decides to leave with Nita, and a half-man named Tool (originally in Richard's Heavy Crew) to New Orleans. After jumping trains, they arrive in New Orleans.
They wait for a ship called the Dauntless, a ship loyal to Nita's father, to arrive. Eventually the Dauntless arrives, but so does Richard. He is dressed as a swank (a rich man). Feeling suspicious, Nailer scouts the ship. After returning to his and Nita's hideout, he discovers that Richard and Nita's uncle, Pyce, have kidnapped her. Nailer joins Captain Candless and the rest of the Dauntless crew on a high-speed chase after the Pole-Star, the ship Nita is presumedly on. While on the ship, Nailer learns how to read and works on the gear systems in the depths of the ship.
During some high speed maneuvering, the Dauntless outsmarts the other ships, the Ray and the Pole Star, after sailing back to the gulf where the story started. The crew members of the Dauntless board the ship, and Nailer searches for Nita. He encounters his father and a fight ensues. Using his newfound ability to read and his experience with the gear systems, Nailer wins and saves Nita. The book ends with Nailer meeting Nita again on the same beach they met. ( )
  bostonwendym | Jul 17, 2016 |
SHIP BREAKER was an engaging futuristic science fiction story. The earth has experienced global warming melting the polar ice and drowning the coastal cities. The gulf of Mexico sees frequent super storms. Fossil fuels have been depleted.

The story begins with a boy named Nailer who is part of a light screw scavenging old freighters for any usable bits - copper wire, aluminum. He is part of a crew who works in dangerous conditions without adequate safety precautions to make their quotas. They are mostly hungry and live in sorts of gangs.

Nailer's father is an alcoholic and drug user who is violent most of the time. He takes refuge with friends when he can get away from his father.

One day, when out scavenging, Nailer and a friend discover a wrecked sailing ship and a passenger who is almost dead. The friend suggests that it would be better if the girl were dead but Nailer wants to rescue her. Nita is a Swank. Not only is she rich but she is heir to one of the biggest surviving corporations. However, she is on the run from the part of her family that wants to overthrow her father.

Nailer, a half-man named Tool, and Nita decided to go to Orleans to see if they can find some ships loyal to Nita and her father. They need to jump on a moving train to get there which just starts their adventures.

The story is filled with sailing ships, sea-going battles, treacherous people, and ones that can be trusted though sometimes it is hard to tell the difference. I liked that Nailer got a chance to see what was out there in the bigger world.

The world building was well done and the plot was entertaining. I liked Nailer and liked watching him grow through the book. ( )
  kmartin802 | Jul 6, 2016 |
Scary to think this could be the future. I was disappointed with the ending, but overall I enjoyed it. ( )
  mtlkch | Jun 21, 2016 |
Pretty brutal for a YA novel. I liked Nailer as a character, but felt the others were not as fully developed as I'd like. In fact, I think the characters were incidental to the plot and, although the main characters were frequently put in mortal danger, I had no doubt at any time that they would triumph, so I didn't feel that edge of the seat emotion that I think the author was striving for. Maybe I wasn't in the mood, so I might be a little unfair... ( )
  mmacd3814 | May 30, 2016 |
This was a strange reading experience for me. Although I found the world of ship breakers really interesting, and was engaged with the characters from the beginning, I found myself feeling really distanced from everything. I couldn't quite connect to either the world or the characters, for whatever reason, and though I was interested in the plot, I also wasn't compelled by it. For the first half of the book or so, I read along out of habit, because I'd picked it up, but could have easily enough forgotten about it if I'd accidentally left it somewhere out of the way. Then, maybe two-thirds of the way through, things picked up and began spinning forward. I still felt some distance from the characters... but I wanted to know what happened next, enough even that I'm left thinking about picking up the companion novel to the piece.

So, why the distance, and the 3 stars instead of 5? Truly, it's hard to say. I'm tempted to say that the characters were simply too tight, and too unchanging. I got hints of complexity from the minor characters who appeared in the book less constantly--and I'm really just tempted to pick up the companion book because I believe one of them is at its center--but when it came to the two characters at the center of the book... well, I suppose I just wanted more depth, and more small details to help me feel them as real, believable characters.

In the end, I'm left wanting more, and I'm fairly sure that want is due to the characters at the heart of this, who felt too flat for me. There was so much room for them to change... and yet, I don't feel like they actually did. So, much as I engaged with the world... I'm not sure where I'm left after reading this one. I guess that in itself says it all. ( )
  whitewavedarling | May 22, 2016 |
Showing 1-5 of 189 (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 (10 possible)

Author nameRoleType of authorWork?Status
Paolo Bacigalupiprimary authorall editionsconfirmed
Caplan, DavidDesignersecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Horváth, NorbertTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Swaab, NeilCover artistsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Warner, BobCover artistsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
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For Arjun
First words
Nailer clambered through a service duct, tugging at copper wire and yanking it free.
Quotations
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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(Click to show. Warning: May contain spoilers.)
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Book description
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.

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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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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.… (more)

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