Title: Ship Breaker
Author: Paolo Bacigalupi
Format: Audio CD (unabridged)
Read by: Joshua Swanson
Review from GoodReads:
In America's Gulf Coast region, where grounded oil tankers are being broken down for parts, Nailer, a teenage boy, works the light crew, scavenging for copper wiring just to make quota--and hopefully live to see another day. But when, by luck or chance, he discovers an exquisite clipper ship beached during a recent hurricane, Nailer faces the most important decision of his life: Strip the ship for all it's worth or rescue its lone survivor, a beautiful and wealthy girl who could lead him to a better life...
In this powerful novel, award-winning author Paolo Bacigalupi delivers a thrilling, fast-paced adventure set in a vivid and raw, uncertain future.
Be warned!! This review contains light spoilers!!
I was very much pleasantly surprised by Ship Breaker by Paolo Bacigalupi. I was aware of Bacigalupi's previous work in dystopia - he wrote [b:The Windup Girl|6597651|The Windup Girl|Paolo Bacigalupi|http://d.gr-assets.com/books/1278940608s/6597651.jpg|6791425] which was the Winner of the 2010 Hugo Award for Best Novel and Winner of the 2010 Nebula Award for Best Novel. A reviewer that I follow on GoodReads praised Bacigalupi's work highly and said that Ship Breaker was a great introduction to his work. I'd have to agree. If Ship Breaker is any indication of his other adult dystopias, then I'm all for it!
I had to read this book for school but wasn't able to get it from any of my local libraries. BUUUUT, I WAS able to get the audiobook. I didn't know anything about the narrator, but I thought I'd give it a chance. I've had a lot of hit and misses when it comes to Audiobooks - I often find that the narrators are monotone and boring. I'd much rather 'hear' their voices from my own imagination. However, I've been noticing that Children and YA audiobooks are becoming extremely popular and are winning more and more awards....so, I borrowed it.
Anyways, my point is that I love Joshua Swanson, the narrator of the audiobook version of Ship Breaker. Apparently he's won a bunch of awards for his voiceover work in audiobooks and commercials. I can see why. He's got a very animated voice and best of all, he voices each character differently. I was really impressed with his range (apparently he also narrates Rick Riordan's books too which I'll definitely be taking out of the library). I've never enjoyed washing dishes more ;).
However, the juicy part is the book itself. Swanson's narration really added to the novel's experience; however, the novel itself is awesome. While apparently not as detailed and dark as his adult novels, Bacigalupi has a real talent for world-building and making the post-climate-change world seem very plausible. I was even nodding my head in some places thinking to myself that yes, this is actually going to happen. As someone who identifies with the whole climate change/environmentally-friendly movement, I can really see teens 'digging' this book. There's a line from the novel where Nailer, Nita, and Tool are on the train and are passing suburbs and small cities onto their way to New Orleans to find a Captain of a Clipper (ship) that will take Nita back to her father. They talk about the stupidity of past generations who squandered all the resources and created so much greenhouse gases that the world's temperature rose and the ice caps melted, creating the Drowned Cities.
"The wreckage of the twin dead cities was good evidence of just how slow the people of the Accelerated Age had been to accept their changing circumstances"
This is a very pointed comment to make. And I think that it will resonant with teenagers other readers who have grown up with hearing about global warming and the climate changes. I strongly believe that one of the reasons why dystopias are so popular among YA readers is because it addresses important political and social issues like this. The Hunger Games commented on the power of media within society and it's ability to control information and facts, whereas The Ship Breaker talks about society's dismissal of climate change and the lack of national and international policies taken regarding climate change and its irreversible impact it will have on our world. Both books talk about issues that are out of the control of young people but are issues that directly affect them and their quality of life. The helplessness and their lack of control is something that would resonate with teenagers and young adults who are smart enough to understand the implications of these things, but lack the power to do anything about it in a world that puts emphasis on power and money, and as a result, exploitation.
Another aspect that I found interesting was that once the ice caps melting and big corporations taking over and monopolizing the world's financial markets, resulted in a huge societal shift where there's no longer a middle class, but only a 'High' class and 'Low' class. The high-class are rich beyond imagine and low-class are practically slaves. I think that Bacigalupi is commenting on America's penchant and weakness for Capitalism and the fact that they permit and allow(ed) blatant corruption to take over. The conversations between Nailer, Nita and Tool are really indicative of the 'message' that Bacigalupi is trying to express throughout his book. The preconceptions and assumption that both Nailer and Nita have about each other and their respective classes are interesting and disturbing. For example, Nailer's abysmal circumstances makes him thing cynically about the money, power and corruption that constantly surrounds him - he's a realist to the point of despair. Nita is surrounded by privileged; is 'educated' and idealistic, and yet she is woefully naive when it comes to the 'real world'. In my opinion, Bacigalupi beautifully illustrates the conundrum that surrounds such important issues such as climate change: in order to make change you have to give up something. Also, it's interesting it to see Nita's naive optimism and Nailer's cynicism bringing a hard dose of reality to her - she finally sees who and what allows her to live in such opulence.
Anyways, these are just a few reasons why I loved Ship Breaker. I would highly recommend anyone who enjoys dystopias to read this book - I would hands down recommend this book to someone who had just read Hunger Games and was looking for something else similar. Bacigalupi's world building is fantastic and his prose beautiful. Like Hunger Games there's a touch of romance in this story, and it's done wonderfully in my opinion - it fits just right with the character's personalities and is definitely not over the top. I would likely recommend this book over books like Divergent.