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Ship Breaker by Paolo Bacigalupi

Ship Breaker (edition 2011)

by Paolo Bacigalupi

Series: Ship Breaker (1)

MembersReviewsPopularityAverage ratingMentions
2,9632113,322 (3.86)204
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.
Title:Ship Breaker
Authors:Paolo Bacigalupi
Info:Little, Brown Books for Young Readers (2011), Edition: Reprint, Paperback, 352 pages
Collections:Your library, Read but unowned
Tags:Audiobook, 2012, Dystopia, Science Fiction, Science, Young Adult, America

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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» See also 204 mentions

English (208)  Hungarian (1)  French (1)  All languages (210)
Showing 1-5 of 208 (next | show all)
Climate change has taken hold of the world, polar ice caps have melted and poor laborers risk their lives tearing apart beached tankers for spare parts to sell to "swanks." Nailer and his friend/coworker Pima discover a wreaked "swank" ship with one person on board still alive. It could be the salvage of a lifetime but they'd have to kill the girl to get it.

Engaging and suspenseful. It was an entertaining read with some dire predictions of what out planet could become. ( )
  Sarah220 | Jan 23, 2021 |
Nailer is a ship breaker, one of those who make their living from scavenging the ships left over from the Accelerated Age. That was a time when oil, metal, resources in general were abundant. Things are different now, and for the poor of the world, like Nailer, life is hard. And it is getting harder for Nailer, as he gets older so he gets bigger. Soon he won’t be small enough to work the light crew, but he doesn’t have the build for heavy crew. Not nearly. And without a crew you don’t have a chance at surviving.

Ship breaker is a hugely entertaining story, set in a really well thought out world. Nailer is a great character. His life is hard, and it has made him hard in certain respects, but he still has morals. He knows that although getting ahead is important, so too is honesty, loyalty, and sticking to your crew. Or so he has learned, almost the hard way.

I liked a lot about this book, although I would have liked to learn more about the world in general, especially the “half-men” perhaps we will get a sequel…

But what set it above other books is the central character. Nailer is just great. He is far from perfect, battling his own demons and his sense of who he is. And how other people see him. I suppose in a way it is a great example of a coming of age story. Nailer certainly grows up a lot, and learns a lot, learns that there is a lot more to the world than he had ever thought.

But as well as that it is very much an adventure story. And a sea adventure story at that. Towards the end it really put me in mind of some of the Patrick O’Brian books I’ve read. This doesn’t go into quite so much details as regards ships and nautical terms, but there is a similar sort of feel to it. ( )
  Fence | Jan 5, 2021 |
  lcslibrarian | Aug 13, 2020 |
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 |
Showing 1-5 of 208 (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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Wikipedia in English (1)

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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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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Average: (3.86)
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2 30
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3 182
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