Ship Breaker

By Paolo Bacigalupi

Great for grades 6 and up.


Author Paolo Bacigalupi creates a whole new world in the dark days of the future.  This is in a line of many dystopian society books recently out, but Bacigalupi has truly a unique story set in the future when cities became buried by natural disasters and ships often became tangled in the ruins of cities of the past.  Nailer, the main character, is a 15 year old ship breaker, his job is to slip into the stranded ship ruins and pull out all that is salvageable—like cooper wiring.  Salvaging is what keeps food on his plate—it has become his life—it’s the only way to make a living on Bright Sands Beach. Nailer lives with an extremely abusive father who is addicted to drugs and often lives off what Nailer brings in. A sad life indeed!  His only bright spot is his friend Pima and her mother.  Then one day after a “city killer” storm, Pima and Nailer are out looking for what the storm might have washed ashore when they discover a “fresh” ship. It could be what Nailer has been dreaming of, “a lucky strike.” They find the entire crew dead except for the beautiful owner’s daughter, Nita.  Nailer and Pima nurse “the swank girl,” Nita, back to life as they collect the rich bounty off the ship.  All is going well until “swank girl” says her ship was hunted down and thus became grounded.  She is in grave danger—her dad’s enemies want her dead as then they can dominate the shipping industry.  Bacigalupi mixes new technology with a blend of old-time high sea pirates! This story is compelling with an exciting and chilling climax.  It definitely leaves you wanting more!  A great guy read for sure!

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