SHIP BREAKER by Paolo Bacigalupi
CLIMATE CHANGED, OCEANS RISEN, WORLD COLLAPSED, DYSTOPIA
Grounded tankers. Ice
melt. Violent father. Cruel world.
Scavenge. Scrounge. Survive.
YA (grades 8-12)
Science fiction / fantasy fiction / dystopian novel
Third person close POV
Main character – Nailer – 17 years old
Themes – scavenging, surviving, drug-addicted father, family violence, coastal cities, fossil fuels, post-apocalyptic world, survivor trapped in ship’s wreckage
Secondary character – swanky rich girl plucked out of broken ship by hero
Adventure, action, excitement, rollicking ride through oceans and underwater lands
Backstory sprinkled throughout – interspersed with dialogue and action rather than being dropped in chunks
Scrounging for existence, salvaging scrap metal to survive
Reminiscent of orphaned and abandoned children working in crews to make money and survive under the steely hand of a slightly shady older man in classic Dickens stories
Hero’s journey – inner and outer – Nailer leaves his ordinary world (of ship breaking) to journey across high seas, meeting mentors and foes before finally returning to his ordinary world a changed boy and harbinger of change for his community.
Some elements feel forced — i.e. dire references to New Orleans as a doomed underwater city
Final points feel a bit hammered/heavy handed — Nailer is the key to saving himself, his ship and his world
Rocking rhythms of the prose echo movements of a ship at sea
Increasingly stormy seas of tension and adventure also echo waters
Rising and falling pace carries feeling of heavy gusts and light breezes blowing in and all around