Thursday, December 29, 2011

Book review: Ship Breaker by Paolo Bacigalupi

This is the second work I've read from Colorado writer Paolo Bacigalupi, and I'm happy to say his intense style and voice are consistent in this work as well. This dystopian, young adult novel is set in the post-oil Gulf Coast region, where Nailer, a boy of indeterminate age, makes his "living" scavenging wrecked and abandoned oil tankers. His abusive, drug addicted father is the only "family" that Nailer has, and even a close brush with death does little to stir any real compassion in this man. Yet when a hurricane tears through the beach settlement Nailer calls home, he  remains loyal to his father and saves his father's life. The hurricane also brings with it a shipwrecked pleasure craft, and with it, the potential for Nailer's life to change for the better.

A story that examines loyalty, family, and the wide gap between the haves and have-nots, Bacigalupi ably demonstrates that he is able to write equally well for both an adult as well as a young adult audience (something not every author is able to do successfully). The characters are very believable, and Nailer's longing for family and desire to remain loyal even when it seems hopeless belie the seemingly tough shell he presents to the world, and make him only more likable and relatable. From Little, Brown & Co. and available from your local, independent bookstore. (Make a difference: shop local & independent!)

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