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336 pages, Hardcover
First published October 10, 2017
It gave him a certain dark satisfaction to see humans floundering so. It was ever the way of them. Diving always into danger without thought, always optimistic that they might win out. And so they died.
Words like ownership came easily when a creature was grown from handpicked cells, developed in a creche, and purchased from a selection of other augments.
And yet, they were not identical. They had feelings. They wept at loss. Delighted in success. They were people.
Except they weren't.
"Ship Breaker" is killer good: a young adult adventure set in a post-environmental disaster, post-nation/state world where powerful clans control global trade conducted by sailing ships and dirigibles, and society is divided into two classes: the very rich and the very poor. It's a Margaret Atwood Oryx & Crake scenario on steroids, and like Atwood, Paolo Bacigalupi has rich narrative and descriptive powers: you can see the world of the shipbreakers on their oil-stained beach, you can feel the rust and sharp edges on the steel plates the breakers pry off their beached oil tankers, you can hear the hammer blows and the pop of forced rivets, you can smell the fuel oil and sweat. There's nothing theoretical about Bacigalupi's writing, nothing that requires page after page of dry explanation; his fictional world is immediate and gripping, fully revealed through the context of a kick-ass story, all but real.
I really should list this as a banned book and beat the rush, because when the helicopter parents who have challenged "Lord of the Flies" and "The Hunger Games" see the darkness here, they will surely put "The Drowned Cities" on their target list.