Rating: 3.5/5 stars.
Okay, I know. I’m a guy. I’m supposed to like science fiction books about violence, nonstop action, piracy, you name it. Right?
Wrong. I liked this book for entirely different reasons.
The world building amazed me. This book’s initial setting is in a trashy town on America’s Gulf Coast, a region I know practically nothing about. It turns out I didn’t need to know anything, as this story takes place in the future – with the Gulf Coast wrecked and parts set aside for ship-breaking, the profession of our protagonist, Nailer. Paolo Bacigalupi’s descriptions are vivid and intense, drawing upon the jagged, rough concepts of ship-breaking and scavenging themselves.
I thought a lot about the themes of Ship Breaker. Certain characters experienced a loss of humanity as they were forced to hurt or kill others, and others had to put their loyalty to the test when desperate decisions had to be made. In fact, it was the effects of the action on the characters, particularly Nailer, that made me like this book so much – rather than the actual action sequences.
That being said, I still felt a lack of connection with most of the characters. Nita reminded me of the archetypal girl who starts out as prim and proper but isn’t afraid to get her feet dirty, and although Nailer showed more thought than other male protagonists, I just didn’t empathize with him. Tool interested me, but he left the story ambiguously, which aggravated me a little bit. I wonder if Bacigalupi intends to write a sequel to Ship Breaker.
I felt as if some of the action could have been replaced with deepening the meaning behind the book, but overall a good read. Despite my reluctance to recommend this book to a specific gender, I admit that males might like this more than females (you wouldn’t think that based on Goodreads statistics, however).