Carrie's Reviews > Ship Breaker

Ship Breaker by Paolo Bacigalupi
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's review
Jul 25, 12

really liked it
Read in July, 2012

Nailer lives on Bright Sands Beach. He has always lived on Bright Sands Beach. And, for the past several years, Nailer has been a ship breaker; that is, he has been a member of a crew that strips valuable salvage out of old oil tankers. It’s dangerous, dirty work, but it’s the only way to survive now… now that his mom’s dead and his dad has become an abusive, alcoholic, drug addict. The day after a horrific hurricane (a “city killer”) sweeps through Bright Sands Beach destroying everything in its path, Nailer and his friend Pima are searching the waters for fish. Suddenly, they see a wrecked clipper ship, washed onto the shore by the storm. It’s their lucky day, their Lucky Strike! As Nailer and Pima investigate, they discover rotten food, broken furniture, smashed glass, and dead bodies… several dead bodies. One of those bodies belongs to a beautiful girl about Nailer and Pima’s age. As the duo begins the gruesome job of cutting off her fingers to steal her gold jewelry, the girl’s eyes open.

The characters in this book are what make it really stand out for me. The main character of Nailer… he is a stand-up guy, a “nice guy” even though he has every reason and every excuse to be bad. His mom is dead, his dad is abusive, he has virtually nothing to eat, little chance of a better life; he should be bitter, selfish, and cruel, but he’s not. He stands by his friends, fights for what is right, and never loses hope. Nita, the “dead” girl on the clipper ship, exemplifies the fact that you can’t judge a book by its cover – she looks “swank” (rich), but runs, fights, and guts eels with the best of the ship breakers. Nailer’s father, Richard Lopez, couldn’t be more different from his son. He is the most self-centered, violent, disgusting example of a human being you could ever imagine. He is a drug addict, a manipulator, and a killer. But, whether they are good or evil, the characters in this book have left a lasting impression on me; they are beyond memorable!

“Ship Breaker” by Paolo Bacigalupi is a book I would highly recommend to anyone who likes action/adventure or sci fi/dystopian young adult novels. I was really hesitant about this book because I’m not into nautical storylines, but once you get into the book, it doesn’t really matter. Yes, there’s a lot of sailing and boating terminology, but it is secondary to the overall plot. I think this book is most certainly deserving of the two awards it received… and most certainly worth the time to read!!!

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