Monday, December 6, 2010

Ship Breaker

Today I will be discussing this wonderful new novel I just recently finished reading, Ship Breaker, by Paolo Bacigalupi. First, I need to thank Karen Amanda Hooper, whose blog I won my copy on. Thanks Karen!

Anyway, this is the author's first young adult novel, but Paolo's writing has appeared in High Country News, The Magazine of Fantasy and Science Fiction, Salon.com, and Asimov's Science Fiction Magazine. He is a Hugo and Nebula Award winner, and a National Book Award finalist.

From Booklist: This YA debut by Bacigalupi, a rising star in adult science fiction, presents a dystopian future like so many YA sf novels. What is uncommon, though, is that although Bacigalupi's future earth is brilliantly imagined and its genesis anchored in contemporary issues, it is secondary to the memorable characters. In a world in which society has stratified, fossil fuels have been consumed, and the seas have risen and drowned coastal cities, Nailer, 17, scavenges beached tankers for scrap metals on the Gulf Coast. Every day, he tries to “make quota” and avoid his violent, drug-addicted father. After he discovers a modern clipper ship washed up on the beach, Nailer thinks his fortune is made, but then he discovers a survivor trapped in the wreckage—the “swank” daughter of a shipping-company owner. Should he slit the girl's throat and sell her for parts or take a chance and help her? Clearly respecting his audience, Bacigalupi skillfully integrates his world building into the compelling narrative, threading the backstory into the pulsing action. The characters are layered and complex, and their almost unthinkable actions and choices seem totally credible. Vivid, brutal, and thematically rich, this captivating title is sure to win teen fans for the award-winning Bacigalupi. Grades 8-12.

Book Details
Title: Ship Breaker
Author: Paolo Bacigalupi
Publisher: Little, Brown and Company
Pages: 326
Year: 2010
Language: English
Format: Hardcover
ISBN: 978-0-316-05621-2
First published: 2010

The QQQE take: I certainly won't disagree with any of that, and the characters are in fact very compelling, but the thing that really drew me into this tale was the voice of the narrator, and the language of the world in which Nailer lived. Instead of injecting these very real characters full of foul language that honestly would have been perfectly believable, Bacigalupi gives them their own unique slang. Phrases like "grind that," "blood and rust," "sliding high," and "crew up" replace contemporary oaths and exclamations.

The writing is pretty straight forward, not too literary, but the description does have a few very lovely moments. Just the kind of stuff I like to read. Here is a passage that was selected for the inside jacket flap:

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 salft fresh breeze coming off the water. It was beautiful.

There are also some underlying themes about the environment, socio-economic issues, human rights and other things, which although I found them very interesting, I won't have time to go into here. I did find an excellent review on another blog if you are interested in reading more: Val's Random Comments.

Anyway I would definitely recommend this book to anyone who enjoys YA, and even many who don't. Let me know if you have any questions.

26 comments:

Ted Cross said...

I would certainly read that!

Vicki Rocho said...

slit her throat and sell her for parts....those few words say volumes about the world this book was written in.

Nice review!

Joanna St. James said...

great review Mr Rush I definitely want to read this now and I am not even into YA

Elaine AM Smith said...

I loved this review. The book is on my TBR list. :)

Alex J. Cavanaugh said...

Sounds interesting!

maine character said...

I saw this listed for the NBA, then again on a blog yesterday, and I thought, if I see this listed somewhere again, I'm going to order it.

And them bam - big and bold on my screen just ten hours later.

Renae said...

Fantastic review Matt! You have me convinced, I'm adding it to my list!

Stina Lindenblatt said...

Geesh, why can't I write like that. :(

Emily White said...

Another one to put on my list! Thanks!

Jess said...

Sounds like a cool take on the dystopian genre- and this guy's a Nebula winner? Talk about awesome credentials :) Thanks for the review!

storyqueen said...

I heard about this book on Karen Amanda's blog as well. And then I heard it was a National Book Award Finalist....wow!

Very interested to read it.

Shelley

Em-Musing said...

Great review, as always.

aspiring_x said...

wow! this sounds excellent!
i've admired the cover a few times- but hadn't heard any recommendations for this one!
*writes title down on tbr list*

Christina Lee said...

Sounds amazing--and I love the cover!

Falen (Sarah Ahiers) said...

man, i want this book so bad. It's on my christmas list, i just gotta hope i get it

Ishta Mercurio said...

Great review! I love dystopian novels but haven't heard of this one, so thanks for this. I'll definitely be checking it out!

I like the inclusion of its own slang; it really develops the world.

Thank you!

Lydia Kang said...

This one is on my list. Ah, my TBR list is so huge!

LTM said...

but is there any kissing??? :D j/k this sounds like something Dark Omen would enjoy~ ;p

(and hey, it's book review Monday!)

Old Kitty said...

Thanks for the review - YA sci-fi of a dystopian future - sounds good!! In a really bizarre twist - and completely off topic as always - just reminds me of Terry Pratchett's Nation - boy finds girl stranded in wrecked ship! Except this is on Discworld and many centuries past!!!

Take care
x

Colene Murphy said...

Sounds incredible!! Love the idea.

Tere Kirkland said...

I'm almost done with this one now, just s couple dozen more pages.

It's taken me a while to read since I've been so busy lately, but I really like the story and the characters, but the setting really dominates everything else. There wouldn't be a story without this setting, and I LOVE that.

Carol Riggs said...

Sounds intriguing, thanks for bringing this book to my attention! It's now on my list of Books to Read. I love that the author made up his own slang, and I was just posting on that a few posts ago. Like you said, it prevents the novel from being full of foul language. And it gives it a more timeless appeal, because those words will never go out of fad/style--along with being very imaginative. Cool!

DEZMOND said...

I'm definitely not into YA genre, but this plot sounds promising.

Melissa said...

The more I hear about this book, the more I want to read it!

Karen Amanda Hooper said...

You're welcome :)
Glad you loved it so much. Paolo is awesome.

adam.purple said...

I've had my eye on this one for a while now. Thanks for the review. I'll add it to my TBR list.