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Walk of Fame Books

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Ship Breaker - Paolo Bacigalupi ShipBreaker, by Paolo Bacigalupi, is the story of Nailer, a young teenager, who is part of a scavenging crew that strips off old ships and oil tankers from their metal which will be sold to big corporations or countries that can afford it. Like everyone on the beach of the Gulf Coast, he works hard for his survival, to make the daily quota to live another day, but he dreams to a better life. One day, after a city-killer storm, Nailer and his crewmate and friend, Pima, discovers a high-end clipper ship along with its only survival, Nita, a wealthy girl, a swank, the heir of one of the biggest corporation in the world. He’s torn between saving the girl or scavenging the ship and turn the girl over for a reward.

Nailer Lopez, the lucky boy, is the main character of the story. Being young and scrawny, with his ribs showing through, assured him a place in a light crew that scavenge wrecks from copper wires, metal staples or other recyclable metals that can be sold on the market. Living all his life in a shack along the Bright Sands Beach, with a constant sensation of hunger, the only life he ever knew was among the lowest humans of society of all colors and beliefs. Terrified by an abusive father that is high and drunk almost all the time, his main concern is that he would get too big to slip through the small and rusty ducts, but not big enough to be taken on to heavy crew and he will starve to death. With an exceptional instinct of survival, he proves to be very wise for his age and harsh life. Nailer is a complex and dynamic character in the story since very early on till the end, whose perspective changes as a result of the situations he encounter.

The story is set sometime in the future where the society is characterized by oppression and human misery. The world is depleted by its natural resources, the weather is wild, and the major cities are drowned. The author choice of words could not have been better for the world he wanted the reader to envision.

The novel is told in third-person with a limited point of view. The narrator of the story is close to the Nailer’s point of view. As we can hear Nailer’s thoughts, the author lets us to make our own decisions when confronted with different situations without any manipulation from his part. The choice is remarkable since the reader is let to make a strong bond with the protagonist.The perspective on life that the author has created is very cruel and materially oriented to the point that someone could care less about the life of another human being when it comes to gain means of survival.

I found ShipBreaker to be a thoroughly interesting and brilliant story that I enjoyed a lot.