Ship Breaker

by Paolo Bacigalupi

Climate change and violent storms have put much of the Gulf coastal area under water,... read more

Climate change and violent storms have put much of the Gulf coastal area under water, petroleum-based fuel is scarce, and oil tankers are obsolete. As part of a light scavenge crew, Nailer teams with other teens to strip deserted tankers of all valuable scrap material. His future is uncertain, as Nailer is approaching the age when he’ll grow too large to maneuver in tight spaces, but not large enough to qualify for the muscle work of the heavy crew. Earning barely enough to buy food, Nailer and the other scavengers live life on the edge. His drug-using, abusive father is yet another worry in Nailer’s desperate existence. So when he discovers a luxurious clipper ship beached after a hurricane and filled with dead crew members, Nailer believes he’s hit the scavenge mother lode. The potential to change his life for the better seems within reach, but then he discovers the wealthy yacht owner on board. Teeange Nina is badly injured but still alive, and Nailer must decide if he’s able to kill her to claim her riches. The choice he makes propels him into adventure and intrigue in this atmospheric dystopian novel of survival that examines questions of loyalty and ethics in a chillingly changed world. (Age 13 and older)

© Cooperative Children's Book Center, Univ. of Wisconsin - Madison, 2011

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