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Ship Breaker by Paolo Bacigalupi

Ship Breaker (edition 2010)

by Paolo Bacigalupi

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2,1581683,008 (3.9)162
Title:Ship Breaker
Authors:Paolo Bacigalupi
Info:Little, Brown Books for Young Readers (2010), Edition: 1, Hardcover, 336 pages
Collections:Your library, 2012 Reads

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Ship Breaker by Paolo Bacigalupi

Recently added byjakechladek, MizPurplest, private library, liso, rawrrbot, sister_ray, davidgn
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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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Showing 1-5 of 166 (next | show all)
Not exactly a literary read, but fun, quick plot, and interesting characters/universe. Good summer read. ( )
  MizPurplest | Sep 21, 2015 |
Nailer is a ship breaker, one of the many scavengers on the beach taking apart abandoned tankers piece by piece. It's dangerous, hazardous work and the dangerous, impoverished life makes for hard edged people. One learns not to expect much in this life, except a distant hope of striking it rich with some lucky find. When Nailer discovers a survivor inside a clipper ship that washed ashore after a storm, he has to choose between scavenging the ship for wealth or saving the swank girl.

Bacigalupi has shaped an almost believable dystopian world, which is starkly divided into poor and wealthy. Global warming has caused the seas to rise and fossil fuel has declined. The scavenge is a necessary part of business and the wealthy owners, who run things from a distance, don't much care what happens to the crews on the beach.

I liked Pima and Sadna, Nailer's friend and her mother who have cared for Nailer since he was a child and nursed him after his father's beatings. They had a practical sort of compassion for Nailer and others whom they considered crew. I also liked Tool, the half-man, but he disappeared from the story just as his character arc was getting interesting, which was disappointing. I would have liked to have seen more of his character.

The story was fast paced with Nailer and Lucky Girl struggling to survive from one moment to the next and Nailer's father is appropriately terrifying. A solid novel overall. ( )
  andreablythe | Jun 9, 2015 |
Ship Breaker is a gripping read, with an engaging protagonist, but it is the world building that is the real star. Bacigalupi's stand-out talent is to immerse the reader, and in Ship Breaker we are taken to a dystopian future, post peak oil, where Nailer and his crew scavenge for copper and other valuable stuff in the guts of wrecked ships washed up by the retreating tides of the Accelerated Age.
[That's us, by the way, the wasteful, blind people who have left the world wrung out and damaged.]
Nailer encounters an entirely new way of living when he and Pima find a 'swank' boat, washed up after a storm. Finding an unexpected survivor presents him with moral challenges, and for the rest of the book he must deal with the consequences of his actions.
Bacigalupi is a thoughtful and passionate author who puts character, ideas and context above plot. His message about environmental and social decay is a powerful one, but he skilfully conveys it as part of the story, rather than as a rant.
I have been eyeing this YA novel on my school Library shelf for a while, and finally got round to it after reading Paolo Bacigalupi's new novel 'The Water Knife', which is very good indeed. ( )
  Goldengrove | May 22, 2015 |
Set in a recognizable American dystopian future, _Ship Breaker_ will appeal to readers grades 8+. ( )
  Debra_Armbruster | Apr 12, 2015 |
As a New Orleans native, what I loved about Ship Breaker was the post-apocalyptic setting along the Gulf Coast and how Bacigalupi manages to effectively create a believable world where global warming has melted the ice caps and hurricanes that destroy cities is a common occurrence. The main character, Nailer, is not your typical hero; he's a short, scrawny, scrappy, and scarred adolescent suffering from poverty and an abusive father. He spends his days salvaging copper wiring from decaying oil tankers, hoping to come across a hidden oil reserve so he can live a better life. Instead, he comes across a shipwrecked clipper with a young girl trapped inside. Nailer is faced with the decision of either saving the wealthy girl or letting her die so he can salvage the ship and make loads of money.
Bacigalupi does a fantastic job pulling the reader into this futuristic world by keeping the pace going and moving the action around so the reader gets to see more of the setting. While the characters were well developed, I didn't feel as connected to any of them as I felt I should, but maybe that has more to do with who the characters are themselves (tight-lipped and suspicious of outsiders). This book is a great introduction for students to the issues of loyalty, friendship, family, and wealth in society, along with subtly stressing the importance of environmental issues. I would definitely suggest this as a primary text for an ELA unit on dystopian literature, especially in the Gulf Coast region. ( )
  vroussel | Mar 11, 2015 |
Showing 1-5 of 166 (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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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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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.


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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