Ship Breaker by Paolo Bacigalupi
Sometime in the near future, hurricanes have destroyed our cities and instead of a line between the rich and the poor, it has become a gigantic gap. Those that have the luck and were born swanks, live in luxury with jewels and a never-ending food supply while those that were not so lucky, live as scavengers. Nailer, a teenage boy, works for the light crew and scavenges for copper wire inside of old oil tankers. He works day-to-day, trying to make quota on his job just to be able to afford some food for that night. After a hard and dangerous day’s work, he finds himself going home to a drug induced, abusive father. He compares his father’s moods, fueled by drugs and anger, to the deadly weather that he endures on a daily basis living on the coast. He somehow still finds it in his heart to care for him though silently attempting to tiptoe around this tattoo covered man, because before his mother’s death, he was once a caring and somewhat loving father. Shortly after a huge storm, Nailer and his friend Pima, a light crew worker for whom he shares a blood oath with, discover a beached ship filled with lots of goods that a swank lives and grows up with. All of this loot could make them rich and they could leave the hardships of a light crew worker but they discover a surviving swank and have to make a decision to kill her and keep the goods or save her in hopes of a big reward.
This is the first book in a while where the main character is a male. He is not the big, buff, and some say, dreamy, Edward of Twilight but is food deprived, soiled head to toe but still he maintains a kind heart and is surprisingly clever. I was pleasantly surprised by his character. He is uneducated and illiterate but is very admirable because of how hard-working and loyal he is. It took me a little while to get into the book most likely because of my own issues, lack of sleep and what not, but once I got through the first 50 pages, I was ready to read more. With some dystopian novels, I find it a little difficult to allow the names of the characters to be accepted into my own vocabulary. I am not sure if I am explaining it correctly but sometimes I am a little turned off from the beginning with names or nicknames or titles or worlds. For example, if you ever read The Uglies series by Scott Westerfeld, you may or may not disagree that the description from the beginning of the uglies and the pretties was a little off putting, but it sinks in soon enough and you will not be able to put the series down! That review will have to be for another day, though.
There was a part of me that was thankful for watching the Pirates of the Caribbean and The Titanic because I was visually able to create the ships in my head. I truly think anyone who enjoys a good pirate book or movie would enjoy the ride in this novel because there is a lot of action and fighting. Also, there is minimal intimacy between the two main characters so if you are looking for a good love story, look for a different book. I do see it progressing in the next book, though. I expect the next book, The Drowned Cities, to be more brutal and packed full of even more action. So I would recommend it for anyone who enjoys a good fight and who appreciates good moral values.
Overall, the book was filled with vivid imagery of the two classes, graphic violence, and mature situations, so I would definitely recommend it for older young adults or mature readers.