Ship Breaker by Paolo Bacigalupi. New York: Little, Brown and Company, 2010. 326 pages.
1. A succinct evaluative annotation. Plot: [Conflict] Nailer, a ship breaker worker, lives with his abusive father and does hard work for little reward. When a huge storm comes through his town, a ship is found that was destroyed during the storm and had one living person on board: a girl named Nita. [Rising Action] Nita is running from her uncle who wants to take over her father’s company, which will destroy the docking business overall. [Climax] Nailer helps Nita get back to her clan, or her father’s people, but gets captured by her uncle and Nailer’s father. In the end, Nailer was able to get to Nita and get Nita to her father again. [Falling Action] While getting Nita back, Nailer had to kill his father in order to survive. Nailer realized, though, that his father was never part of his real family – blood only defines so much. [Resolution] Nailer and his family he gained during his life (Sadna and her daughter Pima) went with Nita’s people to have a better life than what they were used to as a ship breaker. Theme: The themes in this novel include survival, hardships, understanding, family, and identity. Tone: The tone of this novel is very serious. Nailer lived a hard life, always waiting for his father to abuse him. Nailer wanted a better life and to do something that he always wanted to do: be on a working ship rather than strip a broken ship of the copper and iron. Style: The author’s writing style is very unique – the word choices and the descriptions of the bodies of water. This was set in the future, so the author was able to use his creativity in talking about the world years away. Characterizations: Nailer is a tough, hard worker who learned to go by the rules and not complain about how his life is. He looked at the world as a new experience and something that he would want to live in, never taking anything for granted because he was not able to grow up with privileges. Nita was spoiled – she looked down on Nailer and his life style, but learned that not everything is as easy as she was used to. She grew into a person that realized not everyone is as lucky as she is, and she became a hard worker because of that. Readability: This novel was very easy to read and very enjoyable to read about the world in the “future”.
2. My reactions to the book. I really liked this book. Not only was it different than most because it’s about the future, but the topic is something I’m not familiar with so it was very interesting to read about. One of the books strengths is that the main character is a male and that there is a lot of action in the story. Many young adult books are about teen angst of young girls, so this is a great viewpoint to read about. One of the weaknesses, I found, was that I would read a paragraph about the technical terms of a ship and not know what the characters were talking about – the advance talking definitely deterred from the reading and I always wondered what they were talking about. As for the accuracy, because this is set in the future, the information about the states wasn’t accurate but the information about the ships and oil might be accurate – I’m not sure how much research the author went into before writing the book.
3. Comment on the cover art. The cover art is very simple, yet shows the life of how Nailer lived. The colors are the same as oil and dirt and grim that Nailer lived through, and the text indicates how Nailer wrote on the ships he broke when he was unable to read at the beginning of the book. I think it will attract a lot of young adults to pick up and look at.