Saturday, October 23, 2010

Ship Breaker

Last week I had the pleasure of attending a young adult author event at Barnes and Noble. There were nine terrific YA authors, talking about the writing process and their new books.
The authors and their new books included
Paolo Bacigalupi - Ship Breaker
Terri Clark - Sleepless
Amy Efaw - After
Lindsay Eland - Scones and Sensibility (retelling of Jane Austen's Emma)
Ingrid Law - Scumble (sequel to Saavy)
Malinda Lo - Huntress (companion book to Ash)
Sarah Ockler- Twenty Boy Summer
Julie Anne Peters - Before You Read This, I'll Be Dead ( see my May 7th Blog)
Denise Vega - Access Denied (sequel to Click Here)
I was familiar with all the authors except Paolo Bacigalupi, who was just nominated for the National Book Award. His book flap bio says, " Paolo is a rising star in the science fiction community. He is a Nebula and Hugo Award nominee for his adult books; Ship Breaker is his first young adult novel. Of course, I bought an autographed copy and dove right in.

In this futuristic dystopian thriller, the world has run out of oil and coastal cities have been swallowed by rising seas. Nailer, a ship breaker, is part of a crew who scavenges for metals on abandoned oil tankers. After surviving a near-death experience on a tanker and a class 6 hurricane, Nailer and his friend Pima find a wrecked clipper ship on the shore. Thinking they are about to become rich, they begin pillaging the wreckage and find a lone survivor, Nita, the "swank" daughter of a shipping tycoon. Nailer convinces Pima not to slit the girl's throat and sell her for body parts, a decision which he constantly revisits as he deals with one problem after another. First, his drug addicted abusive father finds them and tries to claim the spoils for himself. Then Nita's enemies, the genetically engineered half-men hired by a corrupt shipping competitor, arrive and complicate the situation. When Nita offers to introduce them to a better life, Nailer and Pima make her swear a blood oath and she becomes part of their "crew." Nailer then decides to head off with her to the submerged cities of Orleans to try to find her family and people who are still loyal to her.
Their harrowing journey is fraught with complications. They are not sure whether to trust Tool, the half man Pima's mother sent with them for protection. Nailer's father is on their trail, as are the shipping company's minions. When they reach Orleans, Nita begins looking for the Dauntless, one of her father's clipper ships whose captain is trustworthy. Nailer convinces her to proceed cautiously, as things may have changed, and indeed they have. Although the ship's captain has changed, Nailer convinces him to help Nita; but before they can board the Dauntless, Nailer's father abducts Nita. Nailer talks the ship's captain into rescuing her, which sends them off on another action packed series of events.
In addition to being a rip roaring post-apocalyptic adventure, this story illustrates the possible results of global warming and oil gluttony. Nita and Nailer are sympathetic characters who find out that the people you call family are those who cover your back. This highly entertaining read will appeal to both sci fi fans and adventure readers. I highly recommend it.

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