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Ryan

Somerville, MA, United States | Member Since 2005

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  • Ship Breaker

    • UNABRIDGED (9 hrs and 8 mins)
    • By Paolo Bacigalupi
    • Narrated By Joshua Swanson
    • Whispersync for Voice-ready
    Overall
    (817)
    Performance
    (599)
    Story
    (604)

    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 for 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 his life: Strip the ship for all it's worth or rescue its lone survivor, a beautiful and wealthy girl who could lead him to a better life.

    Rusty says: "Very good"
    "More conventional than his other stuff, but great"
    Overall
    Performance
    Story

    I enjoyed Bacigalupi's "adult" novel, The Windup Girl, but felt that its convoluted plot and lack of easily sympathetic characters made it hard to recommend outside speculative fiction fan circles.

    Shipbreaker, however, a young adult novel set in a vividly grimy, frightening future, trades some intellectual complexity for a more accessible, visceral reading experience. Though apocalyptic fiction seems to be all the rage now, even in YA, this book is certainly near the top of the class. From its relatable characters to its convincing scenes of action and danger to its sense of a complex, lived-in world, Shipbreaker offers plenty that will genuinely speak to adolescent readers (though the uncompromising violence, scary adult characters, and modest amount of profanity might be a little too much for children) and grown-up ones, too. Of course, there are "messages" here, as well, in Bacigalupi's vision of a world environmentally and economically decimated by capitalism run amok, but he presents them in a smart, unobtrusive way, without talking down to his audience.

    Totally recommended, and a book that puts Bacigalupi into the "young speculative fiction writers with something to say" category. Compared to the Windup Girl, this novel is a bit more conventionally plotted, but perhaps a better intro to Bacigalupi. If his vision draws you in, that book offers a richer experience.

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