Friday, June 22, 2012

You can break his ship, but you can't break his spirit.

Okay, so here's the dealio:

        Sorry I've not been keeping up-to-date with posting.  Though it's a horrible excuse, I've been GETTING PAID doing regular bi-weekly book review columns in our local rag The Lock Haven Express.

        The only hitch to this is that other than giving me something extra to do, no one can read my column because they've not put any online.  Not sure if any of you's really want to read 'em, but I'm posting them on here so at least I can share them with some of my writerly friends.

Here's the latest.  Read it and weep.



You can break his ship, but you can’t break his spirit.

Ship Breaker, by Paolo Bacigalupi, is the kind of post-apocalyptic book I can get into: solid story, characterization and harrowing exploits. The fact that Ship Breaker has received multiple awards for young fiction doesn’t hurt, either. 

In a gritty post-apocalyptic future, teenage boy Nailer scuttles through the ductwork of washed-up oil tankers salvaging copper wire to sell to the highest bidders. The work is tiring and dangerous, and it  doesn’t help that his drug-addled father uses him as a punching bag to regularly take out his aggression. 

This doesn’t keep Nailer from looking on the bright side. Days are spent searching and daydreaming of the “Lucky Strike” that will make him reach beyond his wildest dreams. One fateful afternoon, he finds himself trapped in a holding tank full of oil, but his wishes are not to come true. Here we see—in excruciating detail—the loyalty which this society leans on to help one another.

Due in part to the destruction of our fragile ecosystem, class 6 hurricanes now rage and wreak havoc upon entire coastlines. Yet these “city killers” can bring up salvage of their own, and this one offers a wrecked clipper ship as penance. 

But what he finds aboard a ship exclusively designed to shuttle the rich is quite more than he bargained for. Amid threats of death and loyalty, Nailer enters into a class war that brings him closer and at the same time further from his home. 

The only thing that caught me up in this book was Nailer’s time on the ocean (I am in no way nautical) and a nutty penchant for using half-human animals as characters in post-apocalyptic settings. It’s one thing to bring this upon ourselves, but to make the animals suffer, too? Ludicrous. 

This fast, entertaining read was at times predictable as well, but the richness of the storytelling helped me to forget that with the addition of themes and ideas I’ve not seen previously breached in the genre. For fans of this book, there is also a companion novel The Drowned Cities to partake of.

click HERE to buy!