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Ship Breaker by Paolo Bacigalupi

Ship Breaker (edition 2010)

by Paolo Bacigalupi

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2,2441842,857 (3.89)170
Title:Ship Breaker
Authors:Paolo Bacigalupi
Info:Little, Brown Books for Young Readers (2010), Edition: 1, Hardcover, 336 pages
Collections:Your library, 2012 Reads

Work details

Ship Breaker by Paolo Bacigalupi

  1. 130
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    Pure by Julianna Baggott (4leschats)
    4leschats: Both stories deal with environmental issues and teen survival
  10. 00
    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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Showing 1-5 of 181 (next | show all)
Cool premise. Interesting dystopia that's been set up and a lot of unique characteristics that makes it stand out in its genre. ( )
  bjoelle5 | Feb 10, 2016 |
I would definitely say I'm a fan of Bacigalupi. And not just because his name is fun to say.
I really liked 'Ship Breaker,' but it wasn't as good as either The Wind-Up Girl or the short stories in 'Pump Six.'
It's aimed at a more YA audience, which means that the action-adventure takes center stage over the cautionary-disaster stuff, and it actually has some characters who are nice people. Well, one, at least.

Actually, it has quite a lot of cautionary-disaster stuff and a large number of really nasty, self-centered characters.

I felt like it was entirely possible that this book takes place in the same future as The Wind-Up Girl - just in a different part of it. Post-environmental-collapse, ship breakers are working in the Gulf, dismantling the rusting hulks of old tankers. It's dangerous work, for nearly no money - but there's nothing better. The work teams are viciously cutthroat to each other.

Our lead, a young man, sees new, solar ships in the distance and dreams of another life. But his life experience is so limited he hardly knows what to dream of. When he and his friend find a wrecked ship - and in it, an injured rich girl who claims to be an heiress, their first instinct is to simply murder her. But, hoping for advantage, they don't... and adventure ensues.

The adventure was OK. But it wasn't really what I liked about the book. I really liked how Bacigalupi draws the different worlds that the characters come from, and how he throws their perspectives into conflict. I like how he took the lifestyle that ship breakers elsewhere in the world are really living, right now, and put it in the (former(?)) United States, challenging readers' perspectives in much the same way as he challenges his characters' perspectives.

I like his all-too-likely visions of the future, and how he doesn't shy away from a realistic depiction of the worst aspects of human nature - and how they're entwined with the best that people are capable of. I very much appreciated that he did this even in a 'YA' novel. But... the adventure was just OK.

Still, I'll definitely read the sequel. I hope he goes back to 'adult'-oriented books, though. ( )
  AltheaAnn | Feb 9, 2016 |
This book depicts a future in which scavenging from beached, ruined ships has become big business. Teenagers crawl thru the ducts of the old ships collecting copper wiring for their crews to try to make quota. They live on the beach in conditions worse than poverty. They are in constant danger from infection, getting lost and trapped on the ships and growing to big to continue on light crew. There is always someone waiting to take their job if they can't keep up. When Nailer & Pima discover a "lucky strike" that could take them out of these conditions, Nailer must decide what kind of person he is. Will he save the young rich girl's life or will he take the scavenge and end his fear and worries about money for good. Nailer wants to be a good person, he wants to do the right thing. But will his worries about his life and his fear of his drug-addicted, violent father make the decision for him. Who deserves his loyalty most? ( )
  Jadedog13 | Feb 3, 2016 |
A tale of the near future, survivalists and the meaning of loyalty. Ostensibly written for young adults, it still holds interest. It takes awhile for things to get going, but the background makes the story more authentic. ( )
  dbsovereign | Jan 26, 2016 |
This was an interesting follow-up to watching the latest film version of Treasure Island (with a brilliant Eddie Izzard as Long John Silver) on the Syfy channel, and then reading The Secret Sharer by Joseph Conrad (and an homage story by Robert Silverberg). This, too, is a sea adventure in a gritty glimpse-into-the-future, if-this-goes-on kinda way. I would highly recommend to those who might think The Hunger Games is the last word in YA dystopian fiction. Bacigalupi does a wonderful job of making me believe in his world; believe that it is, indeed, my world, just a little further ahead in time...and he doesn't skimp on the adventure piece. What would it feel like trying to swim in a vat of oil? It may just be what I've read recently, but I felt like he tipped his hat to both Robert Louis Stevenson and Joseph Conrad. I think they would be proud. ( )
  bibleblaster | Jan 23, 2016 |
Showing 1-5 of 181 (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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