Ship Breaker by Paolo Bacigalupi
If you’re in the mood for a fast-paced adventure story with just a hint of dystopia, this is definitely your book! Nailer is a Ship Breaker; he works helping to dismantle old oil tankers with his Light Crew, collecting scavenge to make the crew’s daily quota. The world he lives in is bleak–he lives a sparse day-to-day existence, usually barely has enough to eat, lives in s shack on the beach with his crazy, drug-addicted father, and hopes to make it through each day without saying the wrong thing to his dad and getting beat up as a result. When he and his crew leader and good friend Pima stumble onto a beached luxury clipper ship, they think they’ve hit it rich (the Lucky Strike) with all the salvage they see about the shipwrecked boat. That is until they realize the teenage girl on the yacht is still alive… Nailer has a choice: he can finish her off and follow through with their plan to strike it rich, or he can try to save the girl and face unknown consequences. He knows the choice he and Pima make could effect the rest of their lives.
Paulo Bacigalupi is an award-winning Science Fiction writer and this is his first YA title. I was very impressed with the writing: it was fast-moving with enough detail about Nailer’s bleak future world to draw me into his life. Bacigalupi’s fascinating proposed future takes place in a destroyed Gulf Coast region, ruined by hurricanes and storms much worse than Hurricane Katrina. His community of virtually enslaved scavengers live off selling copper and other salvage they find on the abandoned oil tankers. At the same time, there exist “Swanks,” who own and run the multinational trade companies which contract the scavenger crews and seem to care less about the poverty to which they are condemning them and most of the population. The writer also makes a few points about ecology, global weather change , child labor in third world countries and worldwide economics without coming off as too preachy.
I highly recommend this book to SciFi and dystopia fans–I promise you won’t be disappointed.