An Award Winning Book for Young Adults: Ship Breaker

Author: Paolo Bacigalupi

Publisher: Little, Brown & Company

Copyright date: 2010

Genre: Young Adult, Dystopian

Format: Audiobook, Read by Joshua Swanson

Pages: 326 / Audio version: 9 hours

Reason for reading: My curiosity about the Printz Award and the recommendation of a fellow blogger.

Rating: B+

Award Won: Michael J. Printz Award, 2011

Summary (from the publisher):

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. . . .

My thoughts:

Although science fiction and dystopian literature are way down on my list, I could not stop reading Ship Breaker. The story was so compelling and action-packed, it would not let me go until the very end.

The world of Ship Breaker isn’t a nice place. It’s set in a post-apocolyptic world that I hope never happens. However, the story was so believable. I could see that if our current environmental practices continue, the result will look like the world Paolo Bacigalupi created.

There was also a great division between rich and poor. The characters featured in Ship Breaker live such a hard-scrabble life they are desperate on a daily basis. I would not want to have to look at a person and decide whether I might capture him/her and sell him/her for body parts. On the other hand, I found the characters in this book extremely self-sufficient and really quite clever – all that in spite of their severe poverty.

Ship Breaker would make an excellent novel for a discussion group. There are several themes that bear talking out: the definition of a family, friendship, environmental issues, political issues, or the disparity between rich and poor. It’s geared toward young people from 12 to 18, an age in which many have opinions about these issues.

Discussion or not, this is a very good adventure story to be enjoyed by readers of all ages.

For an excellent review of this book visit my friend Jill at Rhapsody In Books. She is the one who recommended the book to me.

About the author:

Paolo Bacigalupi is a rising star in the science fiction community. The author of Pump Six and Other Stories and The Windup Girl, he is both a Nebula and Hugo Award nominee, and the winner of the Theodore Sturgeon Memorial Award for best science fiction short story and two Locus Awards for best collection and best novelette. Paolo lives in western Colorado with his wife and son. Ship Breaker is his first novel for young adults.

About the award:

The Michael L. Printz Award is an award for a book that exemplifies literary excellence in young adult literature. It is named for a Topeka, Kansas school librarian who was a long-time active member of the Young Adult Library Services Association. The award is sponsored by Booklist, a publication of the American Library Association. It has been an annual award since 2000.

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About Margot

I'm also known as Joyfully Retired. I love to talk. I love to talk about books I've read, movies I've seen, places I've traveled to, people (especially my children and grandchildren), and Food. On the Quirky Girls Read blog I'm trying to read all the books that have won the major awards and then, of course, talk about them.
This entry was posted in Award Winners, Fiction, Posts by Margot, YA and tagged , . Bookmark the permalink.

5 Responses to An Award Winning Book for Young Adults: Ship Breaker

  1. Thanks for the reference! This is actually a much darker book than most of the dystopias. Also a sequel is coming out in May or something. I tried to read his adult book that has many of the same themes, and it was TOO dark for me; I didn’t finish!

    • Margot says:

      And thank you for recommending the book. Dark is a good descriptive word for the book, but not dark in a morbid way. I listened to this on audio which took away a lot of the stuff I usually don’t like in this genre. The story still takes place in a disturbing world, and the possibilities of that world coming true are frightening. However, the main character gave me hope that, should the world become like this, their will still be people courageous enough to make it.

  2. BermudaOnion says:

    I love that it captured your attention even though it’s outside of your usual genre. I bet my guys would enjoy this book.

  3. I’m intrigued. Adding it to my wish list.

  4. I think Marc read this one and liked it. I haven’t read YA in a very long time. I’m hoping to change that in 2012.

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