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Ship Breaker (Ship Breaker #1)

3.73 of 5 stars 3.73  ·  rating details  ·  28,650 ratings  ·  3,614 reviews
A gritty, high-stakes adventure set in a futuristic world where oil is scarce, but loyalty is scarcer.

In America's Gulf Coast region, grounded oil tankers are being broken down for parts by crews of young people. 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 by chance
Paperback, 324 pages
Published October 3rd 2011 by Little, Brown Books for Young Readers (first published May 1st 2010)
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Kiana I completely agree with you. I was forced to read this novel for an English Assignment, and getting through the book seemed to be a task and a half.…moreI completely agree with you. I was forced to read this novel for an English Assignment, and getting through the book seemed to be a task and a half. But in my opinion, the second half of the book gets better. The first part kind of acts as a world builder, setting up for the climax of the next part. There are a few suspenseful parts included in the second section, so stick in there. It will get better.(less)
Brett Lofgren I teach 8th grade and this is certainly appropriate for 8th graders. I don't remember any foul language at all, there's only one kiss and a hug, but…moreI teach 8th grade and this is certainly appropriate for 8th graders. I don't remember any foul language at all, there's only one kiss and a hug, but there's plenty of violence and drug use. There's one scene where some teenagers drink a little and one parent figure is heavily addicted to drugs. All that said, I'd encourage teens to read it and hope to teach it in my class someday. (less)

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Mar 10, 2012 Tatiana rated it 4 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: fans of dystopian YA fiction
As seen on The Readventurer

So, a reread after a dystopia-overstaffed year, and Ship Breaker still stands out. Actually, this novel has by far the best conceived vision of our future in terms of realism. Nothing much far-fetched or impossible here.

This future is grim and rusty. The planet's natural resources are exhausted, the global warming is happening, Antarctica is gone, cities drowned. Nailer, the main character, makes his living stripping old ships off of their metals which will be then so
Maggie Stiefvater
Ten Reasons to Read SHIP BREAKER.

1. The packaging is fantastic. I know this is shallow of me, but the rusty, oily cover effects on the hardcover? Completely won me over. And after reading the book? Loved it even more. The only way it could’ve matched the mood of the book any better was if there had been some gross water damage on the pages. Also, I thought I understood the title when I began, and then I thought it stopped being relevant, and then suddenly it was much more relevant than it was t
this book is fine.

it had a good amount of violence and intrigue, it had a well-developed sense of atmosphere, i liked the beginning 1/3 of it very much, but then... i don't know. i'm not sure whether my mediocre response is justified or if i had just read too many books right before this that i enjoyed a whole bunch more. this one just kind of beigely occurred. it just felt like something i would put on the tv while i fold the laundry - the book equivalent of NCIS or without a trace.

i do think
Posted at Shelf Inflicted

I’m gonna heap a Whole Lotta Love on this story, just because it deserves it. It was fun, gripping, violent, tense, bleak and there was even a little sweetness at its core.

Now that I’ve quit my job, I thought my nightmares about work would be over. As soon as I started reading this story, I had a dream I was salvaging copper wire from grounded ships. My boss reprimanded me because I was not making quota and also because I was rapidly gaining weight, which made it difficu
Dan Schwent
In a dystopian future wracked with environmental disaster, a young salvager named Nailer's world is turned upside down when he stumbles upon the find of a lifetime, a magnificent clipper ship, and and its beautiful owner, a rich girl named Nita...

Paolo Baciglupi crafted quite a tale in Ship Breaker. You've got familial conflict, ecological disaster, young love, dystopia, what's not to like?

Not a lot, frankly. The world Bacigalupi has created is quite something. The cultures are very believable,
Maggie Boehme
I read this in early summer looking forward to seeing it live up to all the awesome reviews I read. I was totally disappointed.

To sum things up, I think it shouldn't have been published. Yet. He has a great world and a great story -- the whole idea of ship breakers is AMAZING and his world building is solid -- but three things really bugged me the whole time I was reading:

1. His actual writing. (I thought) he needs editing, big time. His sentences didn't flow for me and he re-used the same words
The test of the morality of a society is what it does for its children.
~Dietrich Bonhoeffer

In the speculative future proposed by this book, children will be highly valued...because they are small enough to crawl into the pitch black recesses of abandoned ships and retrieve copper wire.
Yay for children! Somewhere, Newt Gingrich will be beaming.

Meet a generation of Lost Boys and Girls. They don't wanna grow up because getting bigger means they can no longer squeeze into those narrow passageways.
Dec 29, 2013 Carol. rated it 4 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: fans of dystopic, well written YA
Four and a half stars of young adult goodness.

I’m slightly ambivalent about Bacigalupi’s writing, but Ship Breaker has strengthened my affection. His short stories are hard for me, as in hard-edged, hard-hitting, hard-healing. I liked The Wind-Up Girl, mostly, though I was troubled by the lack of feminism and the bleakness of the dystopia. Young adult might be the area where Bacigalupi and I best intersect; Ship Breaker is full of his evocative prose, great world-building, and is generally more
4.o to 4.5 stars. While his catalog is not yet extensive, I have yet to read a novel or short story by Paolo Bacigalupi with which I have not been impressed. He is a terrific writer and his first novel, The Windup Girl, is on my list of "All Time Favorite" novels.

This is another great book with sharp, well written dialogue, a fast-paced story and an interesting main character. As a YA book it is a home run. The only reason is does not get the full 5 stars from me is that, as a YA novel, the det
This book is a really good example of why I almost always find YA literature unsatisfying: I am, sadly, no longer a YA (though my A status might be called into question from time to time).

See, I just finished this book called The Windup Girl, which is about a post-oil society in which man's unchecked manipulation of the environment - from drilling into the ground to extract oil to drilling into the very DNA (see what I did there?) of plants, animals and even people to create "better" (more profi
Please tell me this is the first in a series! I really liked this and I hope to read more about Nailer, Pima and Nita and the world they live in.

I live along the Gulf Coast and this world captured my imagination. The story is set on the oil slicked Gulf Coast in a world where everything has fallen apart and the cities of today are now under water. Nailer and Pima work the "light crew", stripping valuable copper and aluminum from the hulking wrecks of old freighters and oil tankers. The crews tha
Let me point out upfront that Ship Breaker is an award winner of the 2011 Michael L. Printz Award and a National Book Award Finalist. So, don’t let my three stars fool you. I’m not arguing the fact that this gritty, post apocalyptic, dystopic novel hasn’t earned its spot among the widely acclaimed books in its class. It just wasn’t a story that captivated or enthralled me the way The Hunger Games, Divergent, or even Blood Red Road did.

First off, I didn’t know what to expect from this book going

Following the resounding success of my Locus Quest, I faced a dilemma: which reading list to follow it up with? Variety is the spice of life, so I’ve decided to diversify and pursue six different lists simultaneously. This book falls into my LOCUS Y-A list.

I think I’ll always have a soft-spot for imaginative young-adult speculative fiction and as the good people at Locus did such a grand job with picking their Sci-Fi winners, I’ll trust them to single out some special y-a books too.

Was it good?
In Michael Springer's review of Ship Breaker, he uses a narrative account of his experience working at Rally's Hamburgers as a parallel to the type of work the book's characters are engaged in, and follows this lengthy digression with a political rant that goes on in one seemingly endless sentence for several hundred words. The actual time invested in discussing characters or events from the book come in a brief paragraph at the end, almost as an afterthought to the rants that have come before. ...more
This is a quick but fascinating read set in a compelling futuristic world where climate change has plunged most of the world's coastal cities into the ocean and the majority of humans live in extreme poverty (with a lucky few living the "swank" life). The main character, Nailer, is a starving, scarred, and hardened young man eking out a living as a ship breaker. Due to malnutrition, he's still small enough to fit inside the tight claustrophobic wreckages of oil tankers where he scavenges for cop ...more
Morgan F
Ship Breaker takes places in a gritty, grim future, where the divide between the rich and the poor is deeper than ever. The poor grow up like Nailer, a youth who lives in a little shack on a beach off the Gulf Coast with his abusive, drugged-up father. Like everyone else on the beach, Nailer must work hard to survive, stripping washed-up oil rigs for the raw materials, but even hard work is not enough to guarantee survival in his dog-eat-dog world. Nailer can rely on hardly anyone, besides his c ...more
Emily May

A good read but not, I eventually realised, for me.

The story is about a boy called Nailer who works hard gathering copper wiring from old oil tankers in order to make quota and keep his pitiful job. The setting? A bleak and miserable future 100 years from now. One day he finds something on board a wrecked clipper ship that is destined to change his life forever in ways he could never have imagined... sounds suitably ominous and intriguing.

But, ah, there was a bit too much oil and ships and copp
I read this earlier this year and really, really dug it. Very tight and well-written. Gritty without being bleak, and sometimes dark without being depressing. Good stuff.
More like 3.5 stars.

Okay, I know. I'm a guy. I'm supposed to like science fiction books about violence, nonstop action, piracy, you name it. Right?

Wrong. I liked this book for entirely different reasons.

The world building amazed me. This book's initial setting is in a trashy town on America's Gulf Coast, a region I know practically nothing about. It turns out I didn't need to know anything, as this story takes place in the future - with the Gulf Coast wrecked and parts set aside for ship-breakin
Paolo Bacigalupi is destined to be one of the Grand Old Masters of science fiction in another couple of decades. His books are uniformly excellent and capture perfectly the aesthetic of modern SF. His pet theme is environmental and economic catastrophe creating an impoverished, post-oil world. Ship Breaker reads very much like a YA version of his Hugo and Nebula-winning The Windup Girl. Although it's never explicitly stated that Ship Breaker takes place in the same world, it is similar enough th ...more
I really liked the writing in this tremendously dark YA novel of a post-oil, climate-crashed world. The vision of the future is convincing and compelling, the protagonists and villains vivid, and the story had a lot of momentum. Very, very solid.

addendum: ...and it's still sticking with me a couple months later, and I bought the hardcover.
4 Stars

This is a fine example of a fun and well written YA book that has a bit of a Steampunk flair. I have read one other PaoloBacigalupi, The Windup Girl, which I really enjoyed and that led to me to search out more from him.

Ship Breaker is an adventure story combined with the typical coming of age YA theme, and put in a futuristic steampunk world where resources are now the driving economical factor.
Nailer, our young protagonist of say 14 years of age is a ship breaker that works on a "light
Nailer, a teenager, is one of many people who live in shantytowns along the US Gulf Coast, trying to eke out a dangerous living by working on disassembling crews, taking apart abandoned — and now obsolete — oil tankers. The work is dangerous, and taking risks is almost a necessity, because if the young workers don't make quota, there are always other starving kids ready to take their jobs. Once the children get too big to crawl down the narrow ship ducts in search of copper wiring and other recy ...more
Steve Lowe
This is a damn good book.

In my estimation, any book that that can grab me and not let go until I finish it falls into that category. Such was the case here. I have a bad habit of getting bored with a bok and not sticking it out to the end, or becoming so distracted by "real life crap" that I can't finish what I started. This was the case with The Terror, and Catch-22, and Lamb, and Crime and Punishment... And a few more. But Ship Breaker hooked me and kept me going.

Very quickly, in a dystopian f
Opening Line: “Nailer clambered through a service duct, tugging at copper wire and yanking it free.”

Wow what a world Paolo Bacigalupi has created here with Ship Breaker. I won’t say this is the best dystopian book I’ve read but it’s definitely up there as the freakiest in terms of a plausible or even inevitable future -should global warming cripple the earth, the ice caps melt and all of our natural resources disappear.

Initially I’d been drawn to this book because it reminded me of a documentar
This book wears a whirling cloak of action and brings to life a unique speculative setting, while underneath it offers readers an introduction/exposure to all the main existentialist concepts.

I am going to miss being able to turn to this story during my daily drives. I'll miss how it conjures up ways to examine ideas of destiny, decision, fate, present and past, belonging and angst. How many YA books/audiobooks really offer that opportunity? How many books of any kind offer so much to the reade
I read Ship Breaker just after reading Neal Shusterman's Unwind, which I found to be an interesting and completely unintentional companion. Both are YA dystopian fiction set vaguely in the future, but otherwise feel too close for comfort. While Unwind is over reproductive rights, Ship Breaker is about the ecological disaster that's the gulf coast, with oil spills, category six hurricanes, and pollution.

Living in New Orleans, Nailer is a ship breaker, a small youth that salvages useful metal from
Whitley Birks
Ship Breaker is one of those books that suffers a lot from how close it came to being something spectacular. I started reading, encountered all these marvelous characters and concepts, and I got my hopes up. I got my hopes way up. And my hopes crashed and burned. My hopes are a stripper in LA still claiming “I’ll be an actress someday!”

The first 50 pages, and everything therein, were really good. And I mean really, really good. The idea of the world, as kind of a half-pocalypse, where th
Dystopians are hot right now, and I'm trying to read as many as I can. Ship Breaker is different, for me, in that it's so recognizable it could be happening right now, just not in the exact place or in the exact same way that it does here. It's set on the Gulf Coast, where massive hurricanes (the result of global warming and the melting of the poles, it seems) have left the entire area devastated. New Orleans is gone, and so are the two cities that followed it. Nailer, the main character, works ...more
I was a little saddened after finishing Wind Up Girl and discovering that the Bacigalupi’s next book was going to be a young adult. I find this an annoying trend of authors of complex, adult, and sophisticated speculative literature chasing the YA dollar. Teens have everything these days grumpy old me says, leave me my speculative fiction. So instead of rushing out and getting his next title I decided to wait and see. I got my hands on both Ship Breaker and its sequel/sidepiece Drowned Cities an ...more
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The Verge Book Club: 'Ship Breaker' podcast with author Paolo Bacigalupi 3 22 Oct 26, 2013 09:10AM  
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Paolo Bacigalupi’s writing has appeared in High Country News,, The Magazine of Fantasy and Science Fiction, and Asimov’s Science Fiction Magazine. It has been anthologized in various “Year’s Best” collections of short science fiction and fantasy, nominated for three Nebula and five Hugo Awards, and won the Theodore Sturgeon Memorial Award for best sf short story of the year.

His debut nov
More about Paolo Bacigalupi...

Other Books in the Series

Ship Breaker (2 books)
  • The Drowned Cities (Ship Breaker, #2)
The Windup Girl The Drowned Cities (Ship Breaker, #2) Pump Six and Other Stories The Water Knife The Alchemist

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“Killing isn't free. It takes something out of you every time you do it. You get their life; they get a piece of your soul. It's always a trade.” 98 likes
“I'm a chess piece. A pawn,' she said. 'I can be sacrificed, but I cannot be captured. To be captured would be the end of the game.” 66 likes
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