December 27, 2012

Review: Ship Breaker by Paolo Bacigalupi

Ship Breaker by Paolo Bacigalupi

Author: Twitter | Website

Format: Paperback
Pages: 326
Series: Ship Breaker #1
Publisher: Little, Brown and Company
First Published: May 2010
Source: School Library


It's taken a while to finish this book for a few reasons. First of all, I was trying to finish up all my school work so I wouldn't have anything to do over the Christmas break. Secondly, just as the break started, I caught the flu, in which I had horrible headaches disabling me from doing anything. It sucked. And the last reason which is actually involving the book, was that it didn't really pull me in. I decided to do homework instead and put it off until the break. I ended up liking it, but not as much as I thought I would.

The beginning introduces a dystopian world where kids and adults all have to scavenge ships (ship breaking) to make money. These ships are usually big tank engines, and full of copper wire, steel, and other things that were taken out and sold to bigger companies. After a big storm, Nailer happens upon a very modern ship called a clipper ship where he finds a beautiful, rich girl who is close to death. This book basically focuses on how his one decision of whether to save the girl or not created other issues for him.

I really liked the world-building here because it was actually quite believable. The north pole melted, cities drowned, and polar bears no longer exist. It was a world that could actually possibly happen in the future, and I really liked it. Also, I found it funny that the book still revolved around the market, and how even in the future where everything is pretty much scarce, all they care about is making money.

I found it quite entertaining to watch how two opposite people got along with each other, and enjoyed the fact that they were just so different from one another. You have a boy who has never had enough to eat, is constantly abused by his father, and has working conditions in which he could possibly die in. Then the girl pretty much has everything she could ever want. There was a part about the rich girl "wading through filth like a normal person". Obviously it wouldn't be considered "normal" where the rich girl came from.

There were also these genetically engineered half-men, as in half man and half animal. I actually found them really interesting, as they had to swear loyalty to someone, and when that master died, they would die as well because they were basically living on loyalty. They also reminded me of the monsters that were created in the books Escape From Furnace by Alexander Gordon Smith.

One thing that I didn't expect from this book was the darker side of the story. Issues such as child abuse, alcoholism, drug addiction and even racism were brought up. The book didn't dig deep into these issues, but they were clearly still there.

The major reason that dropped my liking of this book was the relationship. Not the relationship itself, but the way it was built. I think there was a very great and strong relationship in the end, but I felt as if Nailer and the rich girl, Nita, just became friends over night. One minute they were bickering and the next, he was giving her compliments. I just feel that their relationship wasn't put together very well, as if I accidently missed an entire chapter.

This was a beautiful story but only when it got to the ending did I feel intrigued by it. I might have enjoyed this a whole lot more if there wasn't a two week break right in the middle of the book. If you're a patient reader, then this book will do you good in the end. And if you've read this, let me know what you think!


  1. I've heard mixed things about this one. Most people really seem to love it, but then others have said that it's really dark and it doesn't keep interest well. I've had this one on my TBR list for SO LONG, but I'm not sure I'll ever get around to it.

  2. It's a bit mixed for me. On one hand, I really liked it, but like you said, it doesn't keep interest well until the last 70 pages or so. If you ever get around to reading it, I'll look forward to what you think! I think this is a book people will either love or really dislike.

  3. Hmm, I think I'd like to try this one because the concept is really interesting.

  4. I'd really like to see what you think about this book. I tried looking for reviews from the EBBD but couldn't find any...


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