It’s a cruel world in Paolo Bacigalupi‘s Ship Breaker. Main character Nailer is a ship breaker meaning he scavenges the old oil tankers for parts with other children, hoping to make a lucky strike and find crude oil leaving behind a life of harsh work. You see, this is a world divided by haves and have nots. Nailer actually has #thirdworldproblems as he lives in a shanty town and is always worrying about having food to eat and whether his drunk dad is going to beat the shit out of him. Nailer’s luck changes when he comes across a shipwreck with a wealthy girl, Nita, inside. He’s at a moral crossroads. Should he kill the girl and get the money for her ship and expensive rings or should he help her and maybe, potentially be rewarded with a better life? And this the dilemma on which Ship Breaker centers.
OH MY GOD. Ship Breaker is super intense. It’s such a cerebral read with a deeper meaning. And let me say straight up, I love books that examine class. There’s extreme wealth vs. extreme poverty. Nailer’s life conditions are radically different from Nita’s life conditions and they have radically different expectations from different scenarios. Each class has automatic assumptions about the other. Nailer assumes that all swanks are lazy and don’t do real work like the ship breakers. Nita assumes Nailer is stupid. It’s all very complex, and interesting because outside of books I know I have preconceived notions about different classes.
Guys, I totally loved Nailer and just want to reach into the book and pluck him out of his hard knock life. Yet, despite all the poverty Nailer faces, he retains strong character. He is loyal to friends. He is hard working. He’s also a bit lucy. Further, ethics are examined. If I’m discussing characters, I have to mention Pima, the female leader of the ship breaking crew. She’s very bold and headstrong, but also smart. She wants to kill Nita and get the money because it’s a sure bet. Yet, I find myself unable to judge Pima because I live by a different set of survival ethics than she does.
I listened to Paolo Bacigalupi’s Ship Breaker on audio. The narration is done by Joshua Swanson who takes what is already an interesting story and turns it up to 11. He has different accents and different personalities for the characters. I loved the voice for Tool, the half man. However, Pima’s voice took some getting used to. I loved that Swanson added to the intensity and the atmosphere with his pacing. I’m glad that I audioed Shipbreaker, because there’s action and also themes and thoughtfulness, this was perfect for the gym. The audio is 9 hours and 8 minutes unabridged and produced by Brilliance Audio.
Disclosure: Purchased with my audible credit.