Ship Breaker by Paolo Bacigalupi
My rating: 5 of 5 stars
For fans of futuristic and dystopic literature, here's one that you'll enjoy! I won't even say that it's anything similar to The Hunger Games, other than it is geared towards Young Adults, simply because it can hold its own in this genre.
Nailer is a teen who is scraping for metal in deserted ships in the Gulf Coast region. He works dawn to dusk crawling in tight places for copper wire and signs of oil, and his only refuge is in the loyalty that he tries to foster with his crewmates. When he and a fellow crew member find a shipwrecked schooner off the coast of their island, Nailer wants nothing more than to find a way to escape his life and abusive drug addict of a father. However, he never expected to find Nita.
Nita is a swank, aka rich girl, who is a pawn in corporate trading to gain monopoly over the known world. She finds Nailer and promises him an escape to paradise if he can help her return to her father. Nailer, despite every instinct to say no, accepts. They are chased by bounty hunters, greedy corporate assassins and pirates, and even Nailer's father, Richard, in an adventure that I would consider exciting on an epic scale.
Adventure stories are not often well constructed, but with a dystopia, there's a lot of room to create a "new world". Bacigalupi does this with perfection; he constructs a desolate world, connects it to his teenage protagonist, which furthermore allows a young adult reader to connect with it. The aspect of abusive parent also plays in well, because despite pirates, disease and danger lurking around every corner, it's worse when it exists at home within your own family.
As a teacher, I would recommend this title to students as a great coming of age story, as well as an interesting and engaging read.
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