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Ship Breaker by Paolo Bacigalupi

Ship Breaker (edition 2010)

by Paolo Bacigalupi

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2,2931872,776 (3.89)179
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

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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 179 mentions

English (185)  Hungarian (1)  French (1)  All languages (187)
Showing 1-5 of 185 (next | show all)
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 |
I'm afraid that this was too YA for me. The protagonists are threatened and they escape and then they are threatened again and they escape.....[to end of book]. I was looking for a compelling arc (or any arc at all) but I didn't find one. When the ending came to the audio book, I was really shocked that that was all there was to the story. ( )
  fhudnell | May 19, 2016 |
Tough to get into, but a good payout in the end. This is one stand alone novel I wouldn't mind seeing turned into a series. ( )
  EmilyRokicki | Feb 26, 2016 |
Ship Breaker by Paolo Bacigalupi weaves his excellent world building skills with a exciting YA high-sea adventure story. Having previously read and loved his book, The Windup Girl, I knew what the author’s vision for the future of earth is, and Ship Breaker is set amid this waterlogged world peopled with the very rich (swanks) and the have-nots. The world is a different place in the future, global warming has seen the poles melted, the water has risen covering many cities, earth’s natural resources are running out and there is money to be found in collecting old materials.

Nailer is a young scavenger who works with a crew on a beach that is near the drowned city of New Orleans dismantling old ships. He is little better than a slave, having to reach a quota every day or face dismissal. While working in the dark and dangerous nooks of these old ships he dreams of escaping and discovering a better way to live. When he stumbles on a wreak after a storm and rescues a beautiful girl who is obviously a swank, he first decides to use her to help him find his better way but after they get to know each other and form a bond of loyalty, he decides to put his faith in her and help her get back to her people.

The story has excitement, action, murder and desperation and while I found Nailer to be a well defined character, I would like to learn more about Nita and her background which hopefully the second book will explore. The story of Nailer and Nita’s fight for survival was interesting but definitely geared for a YA audience being far less detailed or sophisticated as The Windup Girl. However, I now feel invested in these characters and will definitely be reading the sequel The Drowned Cities. ( )
  DeltaQueen50 | Feb 26, 2016 |
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 |
Showing 1-5 of 185 (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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