Sunday, May 27, 2012

Ship Breaker by Paolo Bacigalupi

Hmm, I'm not really sure what to write about Ship Breaker. A young adult novel, it wasn't up to par with a lot of the other books I've read lately, writing wise (as in, I'm reading the second memoir in a row, on top of reading another nonfiction novel for school). Naturally, I think I'm a bit jaded. In any case, I did have to give this book 3 out of 5 stars for a combination of fun, fast paced plot coupled with decent characterization and exposition and description that I felt could have been enhanced and done a little bit better.

From the publisher:
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 its 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.

My thoughts:
First off, that's a little misleading. This was not a 'vivid' future. Raw and uncertain, definitely. My understanding is that the world fell into post-apocalyptic ruin (see Orleans, the site of several cities all destroyed by city killers, Level 6 hurricanes). So just off the bat, I feel like there should have been some description of what just happened to the world for it to be so raw and uncertain. In The Hunger Games, Suzanne Collins mentions that the US fell apart due to war, natural disasters and assorted nonsense, and Panem rose from the ruins of this once great nation. Bacigalupi fails to really describe just what happened in the world, and jumps right into the plot of his story.

The plot itself was pretty interesting, and as a young adult novel was very easy to follow and get into. Fast-paced and adventurous, there was very little time left for descriptions, characterizations, or any real plot development past what was going on in that moment. Yeah, I enjoyed it and read it pretty quickly, but it would have been nice to see a little more going on between Nailer and Nita and Pima, maybe a little more dialogue and character building. Then again, I'm probably jaded from my time in Westeros with the Game of Thrones novels, but at least none of my favorite characters died in this book. Ship Breaker is what it is, a fast paced dystopian adventure novel for young adults. I got a kick out of it, and will most likely be picking up Drowned Cities, the next novel by Bacigalupi. Mostly because Tool was one of my favorite characters, and I'm looking forward to seeing more of him in this second book.

All told, a little bare in description and development, but a fast paced and fun novel nonetheless. And for $2.99 on Nook/e-book format (as of 5/27, anyway), it's definitely worth it. Go download a copy!

- Justin

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