Ship Breaker

 Ship Breaker, by Paolo Bacigalupi

This is the unlikely book I recently selected for the library’s evening book discussion group.  An award-winning dystopian novel written for teens was not an obvious choice, but the group found it interesting and discussible. Dystopian fiction has become popular for teens and adults, but what is it? Dystopia fiction is often set on Earth in a possible future where something has drastically changed, and not for the better. In 1984, it’s government and civil rights that have changed. In Life as We Knew It, by Susan Beth Pfeffer, an asteroid hits the Moon, sending it closer to Earth, and causing climate upheaval and power outages. In Ship Breaker, climate change has led to higher sea levels and destructive hurricanes. Petroleum powered vehicles are gone, and corporations seem to have taken over from government. New Orleans has been submerged, rebuilt, and destroyed again. Nailer, a young teen boy, lives in a shack on Bright Sands Beach and works as light crew stripping copper wire from inside tankers abandoned on the Gulf coast. His father Richard is an abusive addict, and only his crewmate Pima’s mother Sadna is a trustworthy and caring adult. After a storm, Pima and Nailer are looking for shell fish when they find a wrecked high-tech clipper ship, with one young survivor. Their choices and adventures could end Nailer’s life or bring some luck into it. Luck and fate, loyalty and hard work are the main principles of Nailer and Pima’s world. Ship Breaker is a fascinating look at a world we hope won’t happen, and the memorable characters who inhabit it. Read more about the book and the author here .


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