Tuesday, November 8, 2011
Audiobook review: Ship Breaker by Paolo Bacigalupi
Ship Breaker by Paolo Bacigalupi
First in the Ship Breaker series
Genre: Young Adult Science Fiction
Length: 9h 8m
Audio publisher: Brilliance Audio, 2010
Read by: Joshua Swanson
Awards: Michael L Printz Award winner, National Book Award nominee
From: Library OverDrive
Story: In a world where the glaciers have melted, oil is gone, and gigantic hurricanes ravage the coasts, scrap metal is a precious commodity. People who strip derelict oil tankers for parts are called Ship Breakers, and children are sent through the duct work to get at the valuable copper wiring. Nailer is a Ship Breaker, but he's getting too big for a child's light duty, and he's wondering how he'll survive among the adults.
Thoughts: What a great book. It's rare that I listen to a YA story where the protagonist hasn't grown up in the suburbs, so to hear about Nailer and his crew, living in shacks on the beach and working to exhaustion just to survive, was inspiring. Even though they live in a dog-eat-dog world, literally due to genetic engineering, these kids don't pity themselves. They don't have the luxury to mope. They just get on with it. Nailer could teach some of those emo characters from other books a thing or two, after he roughs them up and steals their wallets.
Throughout the book Nailer is confronted with complex decisions, and I like that he weighs the options realistically. What's better, the sure money now or the chance of a larger payoff later? How does doing the right thing fit in? What is the right thing? Right for whom? He's never sure if his decisions are the correct ones, but once they're made, he sees them through to the end, even though most come back to haunt him.
I was also impressed by the female characters. Nailer is a teenage boy, but the leader of his crew and several of its members are girls. The girls are all competent, talk to each other about things other than boys, and are neither nice or polite. They never look in mirrors and don't care what anyone thinks. So refreshing.
Ship Breakers is the first in a series, but it's a complete book that can stand on its own. When it was over, I didn't know there was a sequel until I looked it up. It's nice to have a story that finishes in one book instead with a "to be continued" cliffhanger.
Reading: This is the first time I've listened to Joshua Swanson, and I liked his reading. His narration was clear and moved the text along. He used a lot of fun, distinct voices, although the Jamacian-ish females sounded strange to me. I'm looking forward to hearing more from him.
Final thoughts: An exciting, unique story in a very well-defined, believable world. I understand this book takes place in the same world as The Wind-Up Girl and Pump Six and Other Stories. I can't wait until the next Ship Breakers book comes out in 2012!
Grade: 5 out of 5