Bacigalupi, Paolo. Ship Breaker. New York: Little, Brown & Co., 2010. Print.
Breaking down ships ain't all that's breaking. Bones, backs and spirits follow closely behind in this hard life in a dystopian future where American reaps what they've sown, a catastrophic life for many. Nailer is looking for a way out.
In writing Science Fiction and Fantasy, the world-building is a huge part of it, and the creativity and amazing work done by Paolo Bacigalupi -- here in this dark, cruel dystopian world of America -- is so very visceral one can not help but think how much more it takes to craft a story such as this.
Not only have you a quest -- the hero's journey -- but you have the character arc of a fully drawn protagonist, Nailer, along with great supporting characters -- Pima, Sadna, Tool, Lucky Girl -- a fantastically evil villain -- Richard Lopez (Nailer's own father), and one amazingly tale. This is so much harder to accomplish than realistic fiction, where the writer just draws from experience for the setting, people, etc. There is nowhere near the level of imagination and research in a realistic novel as there is in any good sci-fi/fantasy. I am in awe of writers like George R. R. Martin, Suzanne Collins, Veronica Roth, Christopher Paolini and J.K. Rowling. Building worlds that work, and are plausible -- with problems and conflicts that are inherent to that world, and are key to the working plot -- takes serious talent and a layered imagination! My hats off to Mr. Bacigalupi for joining their ranks.
Nailer is a teenage boy with problems far beyond anything a teenager today deals with. With the coastal area of futuristic America he lives in reduced to a third-world slum, Nailer works in what amounts to a back-breaking job on 'light crew' breaking down beached oil-burning freighters of the past just to survive. He lives in a shack with a horrifying father who drinks, gets high and gleefully beats him as if it were a game. Every day, Nailer risks his life for a job that he could lose at any second on the whim of an evil crew boss or an accident deep in the bowels of a ship's vent system. Most of his crew members and community are untrustworthy, but a select few luckily have his back.
When a storm beaches one of the beautiful white clipper sailing boats Nailer only dreams about, he and trusted crew member Pima think their luck has changed and brought them the Lucky Strike salvage of their dreams. When they discover a rich "swank" girl alive in the wreck, it is a deal changer. Kill her? Ransom her? Help her? This moment is the moment that changes everything.
Genre: Dystopian/Science FictionFantasy, Coming of Age