The world is a wreck and Nailer lives to salvage. A teenager on the ruined Gulf Coast, Nailer strips sunken oil tanker, obsolete due to the catastrophic climate change that has sunken cities. When Nailer finds a pristine clipper ship he thinks he finally has the Lucky Strike that will pull him from poverty, but inside is a potentially greater prize a beautiful and wealthy heiress of one of the all power corporations that rule the wastes. Nailer’s choice leads him on a breakneck escape from pirates, half men (genetically engineered humans made into slaves), and the worst of all: his father.
I picked up this book because it is on SO MANY Best Books of 2010 Lists. It even won the Printz Award of best YA book of the year! Impressive! So I went in with high expectations. I don’t think it was the best book of the year (that would be Monsters of Men by Patrick Ness YP FIC NESS), but it was excellent. What works best about Ship Breaker is how real the future world seems. The descriptions of Nailer’s poverty and struggles could come from any third world nation in present day, but adding the dystopian end-of-the-world makes the story large than just Nailer and his friends. This book has a lot to say about poverty, the perils of global warming, the excesses of capitalism and greed in general, and a host of other Big Issues. It also has edge of your seat and chew on your finger nails (a really gross habit!) action. With all this together it is impressive that the book doesn’t feel jumbled or confusing. Instead, it is a great adventure story that will make you think. I was left wanting to see more about the genetically engineering and Half Men and more about the large corporations. Hopefully there will be more about it in the sequels! Check this out if you like dystopias, sci-fi, or adventure novels that make you think.