Friday, April 29, 2011

SHIP BREAKER by Paolo Bacigalupi

Ship Breaker by Paolo Bacigalupi
Young Adult Sci-Fi
Little, Brown and Company, 2010
ISBN: 978-0-316-05621-2
First edition, hardcover
Source: library

Sometimes I wonder why the best books out there get the least amount of hype. If I hadn't seen Maggie Stiefvater talking about this book on GoodReads-- her comment just happened to be near the top of my "update feed" when I logged on-- I would have never picked it up. Her comments were mostly to the tune of, "This book is amazing." She then listed a few specific reasons why she felt that way, none of which gave away the story. So I checked out the book blurb and thought, sure why not? I like sci-fi. I like YA. This seems different from the majority of what's out there now. I'm in the mood for "unique."

From the inside jacket:

Even at night, the wrecks glowed with work. The torch lights flickered, bobbing and moving. Sledge noise rang across the water. Comforting sounds of work and activity, the air tanged with the coal reek of smelters and the salt fresh breeze coming off the water. It was beautiful.

In America's Gulf Coast region, where grounded oil tankers are being broken down for parts, Nailer, a teenage boy, works the light crew, scavenging copper wiring just to make quota--and hopefully live to see another day. But when, by luck or chance, he discovers an exquisite clipper ship beached during a recent hurricane, Nailer faces the most important decision of life: Strip the ship for all it's worth or rescue a lone survivor, a beautiful and wealthy girl who could lead him to a better life....

After reading that, yes, I was intrigued, but it did not prepare me for the journey I took through those pages. The blurb does not even begin to scratch the surface of this multi-layered story. That final line made me think, oh dear, there is a corny romance thrown in the mix. But no, really, there isn't. And what I felt was a major plot point--the messed up relationship between Nailer and his father--is not even mentioned here.

This is not a cupcake read, people. It is DEEP and DARK.

The story is engaging, and the world-building... it's just so NATURAL. It's how I wish all sci-fi would read. It flows without the slightest blip. And the scariest part? The situation presented felt like something our world could realistically be headed toward.

No surprise, this novel won the Printz award and was also a National Book Award finalist. But I am surprised that more people in the YA community are not talking about it. Male protagonists are rare in YA. Even more rare is good YA sci-fi. This book has both, and I highly recommend it for teen and adult readers. 5 of 5 stars.



Tere Kirkland said...

I feel the same way about this book: not only is it an amazing story, but it hasn't gotten the acclaim it deserves within the reading community.

I blogged about it last summer.

I think I entered a contest to win it, then broke down and downloaded it to my nook the same day.

Olga said...

I saw Maggie's post as well and thought about putting it on my list. Now with two more favorable reviews it's definitely getting added. Thanks, guys!