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,...moreShip 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 crew boss Pima and her mother. His father doesn't care, and even his own crewmates, blood-sworn to have his back, will betray him if it means being rewarded by the Fates with their own "lucky strike".
Nailer's beach has people from a hodgepodge of cultures and ethnic backgrounds. One thing I loved about this book was that the people came in all shades of colors, and none of the characterizations resorted to stereotypes. Unlike most books, white is not the default. Such a mix of characters also paved the way for an interesting culture, one that thrives on luck and "the Fates", with gods and deities from all religions, as well as some made-up ones like the Rust god. I just found this interesting because it emphasized the fact that everyone was poor, no matter their color or beliefs. Everyone had to struggle, with no one being that much better off than another.
One theme that this novel explores pretty well is how some people lose their sense of humanity in the face of adversity. No one in this book is nice. They are all willing to kill if they have to, but with each person having a different way of determining when they "have to". Nailer has more humanity than most. When a city-killer storm ravages the beach, it leaves behind the wreck of a clipper ship, a vessel for rich people. Nailer and his best friend, Pima, are the first to discover the ship, and are determined to scavenge all they can from it. In one of the rooms they discover a beautiful "swank" girl, who appears to have been crushed by toppled furniture. Noticing the girl's gold jewelry, Nailer and Pima have no qualms about taking it from her, perhaps cutting off her fingers in the process in order to get her gold rings. Things become complicated when the girl turns out to be alive. Pima is all for cutting the girls throat and taking the loot. Pima is not a bad character. She is fiercely loyal to Nailer and the rest of her crew and family, but she has no sympathy for characters outside her circle of loyalty. Nailer is more conflicted, convincing Pima that the girl is worth more alive than dead, for people are certain to come looking for her.
Through out the novel, Nailer is torn between being "smart" (aka doing what he can to survive and get ahead), or doing what is right. He constantly finds himself doing what he can to save the swank girl, Nita, and returning her to her family, although that is difficult because they are being pursued by enemies of Nita's father, who want to use Nita as leverage, as well as Nailer's own father, a killer who wants revenge.
The world that Ship Breaker is set in is one of YA distopia's best, as it is well-concieved and imaginative, while remaining plausible. The plot was extremely fast-paced, violent, and action-packed, and the writing had moments of insightfulness. But one thing that was missing from the novel was empathy. I felt it lacked heart and an emotional punch. The characters felt more like roles than actual people. There was potential for some extremely heart-wrenching moments that was ignored, and the small romance between Nailer and Nita could have been fleshed-out more. I don't intend to be sexist, but I just believe this is because the author is male and this book is geared towards a male audience. Not that females can't enjoy it too, its just if they are hoping for some intense romance, they will be disappointed.
One more small quirk I had with this book was how Nailer learned to read so fast. I just found that highly unbelievable, and it took me out of the story.
But overall, it was quite a good novel. It wrapped-up nicely, leaving room for a sequel (I understand it's to be a trilogy), but no cliff-hanger. Nonetheless, I am eager for the next installment.
Sarah feels like an outcast at her new school, a feeling only exemplified when her science class goes on a field trip to the Everglades. So when a loc...moreSarah feels like an outcast at her new school, a feeling only exemplified when her science class goes on a field trip to the Everglades. So when a local boy named Andy offers her an unauthorized airboat ride, she jumps at the chance to get away from her snarky classmates, and pretends to be sick so she can sneak off. Andy takes her to the heart of the swamp, but once there a horrible accident occurs. Their boat sinks. Now stranded in the middle of the Everglades, surrounded by gators, poisonous snakes, and miles of swamp, these two teenagers will have to wade across the river of grass if they want to survive.
This book taught me a few things: 1. I would not last five minutes in the Everglades 2. Spam isn't all that bad when you are starving 3. Don't let the boy hold the gatorade 4. I'm a cold-hearted person because I would have let that little duck die 5. The difference between the kingsnake and coral snake 6. Gators dig holes 7. 13 yr old girls are dumb
This whole book is because of a pretty poor decision. No, not the one made by Andy, because he forgot to do something to the boat which caused it to sink, but the one made by Sarah. Now, in what universe is it okay to go off with a boy you don't know in the middle of the wilderness without telling anyone else where you are going? Hmmmm? Even aliens ain't that stupid. But she is only 13, and lonely, and she was kind of smart the rest of the time, so I'll let this one slide. But let this serve as a warning. Go off alone with a boy and you will get eaten alive by mosquitos.
Anyway, this was a quick read, and a refreshing one. It was a good ol' fashioned book about survival, and not one about surviving the end of the world, or something like that. This book is a good one for people looking to get away from the vapid drama of most YA novels. These kids here got some real problems.
There were a few other little things that annoyed me besides the blatant mistake of the narrator. First off, Livestrong bracelets? Soooo 2005. Second off, the short (thank heavens) conversation about smoking pot was painful to read about. I think the author should stick to writing adventure novels and never foray into contemporary YA lit. And lastly, I had no idea the main character was black. Was this mentioned in the beginning of the novel and I missed it? I was imagining Sarah as some fair-skinned, blonde girl, but nope. In the last chapters she was all like "I'm black!!" It just threw me off that the picture I made through out the entire book was wrong.
Overall, not something I would usually pick up, so it was different. it reminded me off all the survival books I had to read in sixth grade (Julie of the Wolves, Hatchet, My Side of the Mountain), and its nice to see the genre isn't dead.
Thank you Netgalley for letting me view a copy!(less)
East was written when fantasy could still be fantasy. When young adult books weren't required to have a love triangle, a sexy love interest, and a her...moreEast was written when fantasy could still be fantasy. When young adult books weren't required to have a love triangle, a sexy love interest, and a heroine with low self-esteem. Rose, this novel's main character, is intelligent, resourceful, and courageous. She has a strong drive and a true moral compass. The plot reminds me of more classical fantasy that involves epic journeys over several countries over the course of years. The book is chaste and simple, which makes me think its more suited to a middle-school audience nowadays.
Yet, despite the intriguing premise, I found myself bored with it. There was little to none action, for instance. Since the book had such a large scope in following different characters over an extended period of time, it read like this: "We journeyed across the tundra. Weeks passed." (not an actual quote) It was just very slow pace, and there was more telling than showing.
Also, being a romantic girl, I wanted there to be more immediate romance. The romance was slow-building, more about trust and compassion, than about physical lust. Which, don't get me wrong, was certainly refreshing, but the novel was slow-paced already, and having nothing in the romance department along with nothing in the action department lead for a bored Morgan.
I did like this book, but when you are used to action-y, romance-y YA, it can be a bit too slow. I do appreciate it though. It was an altogether pleasant change of pace. (less)
Meghan Chase is used to being nothing special. Her father disappeared when she was six, and her family seems to forget she even lives with them someti...moreMeghan Chase is used to being nothing special. Her father disappeared when she was six, and her family seems to forget she even lives with them sometimes. At school its much of the same, her only friend being Robbie, a prankster who seems to be more and more protective of her of late. But on the eve of her sixteenth birthday, she is sure that will all change. Her cool crush will notice her and her mother will take her to get her license. Meghan is determined that this will be the most special birthday ever. It is; but not in the way she imagined. Meghan begins to see mysterious figures and things she knows can't be real, and when her little brother disappears, a vicious, other-wordly creature in his place, Meghan will find out how special she is. Guided by the faery Puck, Meghan will have to travel into the faery realm, filled with magic and danger, in order to retrieve her stolen little brother.
One thing I regret is that I didn't read A Midsummer Night's Dream first. I would rather go into this book with Shakespeare's characters in my head, then got into Shakespeare's play with Kagawa's characters in my head. Hopefully, that does not effect my enjoyment of the play, which I intend to read one day on my own terms, seeing as my school system failed to force me to read it under a restrictive classroom setting.
One positive thing I can say about this book is that it is entertaining and undemanding. Everything is imaginable and easy to follow, and the action flows at a steady pace. It covered some really well-worn territory, but it did so in a charming way. Most of it was pretty standard fey book fair, but there were a few ideas (the Iron Court, for instance), that I felt were original.
Meghan, while not necessarily stupid, was not the brightest bulb in the bunch. She was rash and oblivious at the same time. She didn't seem to do much. The whole thing was quite repetitive. She would follow someone somewhere, they would run into danger, something would save her, and then she would begin to follow someone else to somewhere else, they would once again run into danger, she would be saved one again and so on and so forth. She wasn't particularly great.
The two love interests (because I assume Puck shall become a love interest) are pretty bland. I know, ladies, Ash is supposed to make me weak at the knees, but at this point he is pretty "eeeehhhh". Is he supposed to be the "bad boy"? And what is Megan being all "I am his beloved!"? They made out a few times. I do not consider that love. Certainly not love I would be willing to risk my future on, because if Ash's mom finds out she is going to be pissssssssed.
Overall, my impression of this book can be summed up in one word: "solid". Is that weird? To call a book "solid"? But thats what is was. Dependable, safe, and consistent.
The only character that I liked enough to make remarks over is Grimalkin. There should be a requirement for every fantasy to have a snarky talking cat, if there isn't one already. I just love those furry grumps.
One reason I love this series is because it's good clean fun and a traditional adventure. It's nonstop thrilling action. It doesn't fall prey to moder...moreOne reason I love this series is because it's good clean fun and a traditional adventure. It's nonstop thrilling action. It doesn't fall prey to modern fantasy trends such as all-consuming romance, vampires, werewolves, and fictional boarding schools. This series finds its roots in Jules Verne, but is still really fun and accessible for people of any age or gender.
Each book is its own little adventure and doesn't rely on cliffhangers to guarantee readers will pick up the next one. Oppel has faith that his fun characters will draw readers into the next one. I would be lying if I said this book had any more substance than a good summer blockbuster. Nothing about it is deep, but it doesn't need to be.
This series can appeal to anyone. It has humor (a monkey peeing in a stuffy guy's soup is pretty funny no matter how mature you are), edge-of-your-seat action and adventure, breath-taking scenery and fantastical creatures, and even some romance.
I really just wish more people knew about this series, because it really is an unassuming gem. (less)
OH man. I devoured this book in a few hours despite its rather large size. I was so absorbed and the pages (get ready for a pun) flew by.
This book co...moreOH man. I devoured this book in a few hours despite its rather large size. I was so absorbed and the pages (get ready for a pun) flew by.
This book continues Matt Cruses saga. When it starts, he is serving as an intern on the airship Flotsam. The Flotsam gets blown off course and as it rises to heights untraveled, it discovers a 40-yr-old mystery: the location of the Hyperion, a ghost ship legend to have riches upon riches on board. Because of some complications, the Flotsam must end it's journey, but that doesn't mean the journey ends for Matt Cruse. With the Hyperion's coordinates and thoughts of riches in mind, Matt Cruse along with the heiress Kate de Vries and a mysterious gypsy named Nadira, set out on a perilous journey.
I think this book maybe even better than Airborn. It was filled with the same swashbuckling action and ripping good adventure, and the romance between a certain cabin boy and young heiress grew even tenser. Now there was even a love-quadrangle of sorts with some other new characters thrown it. I think the character development was considerably better this time around, and we finally got some emotion from Mr. Cruse.
There is just something about these books I adore. They are fun and thrilling, and there is nothing about them that makes me groan in dismay. I think that why these books get five-stars. I'm sure they could be better, but there is nothing about them that I dislike. And the visuals are awesome. I've said it once and I'll say it again: these books would be GREAT movies.
If you know any reluctant male readers, recommend these books to them. They appeal to a wide audience. Easy enough for middle school readers, but older readers will love them too. Both boys and girls. (less)