Wednesday, June 22, 2011

Bound for New Orleans: ALA Annual and A Review of Ship Breaker by Paolo Bacigalupi

Well, tomorrow morning at some horrible hour, I am flying out to New Orleans--for my first ever American Librarian Association Annual Conference!  I am both excited and nervous, especially because I'm still in the middle of my last term of grad school classes and two internships and haven't had much time to prepare!  But it does help that other librarians have offered some great advice.  The awesome librarian/blogger GreenBeanTeenQueen, for example, did a wonderful ALA Annual advice post on Monday.  

Ship Breaker seemed like a perfect book to post a review about in celebration of the beginning of this exciting event.  It is this year's Printz Award winner and the story, like that of last year's winner Going Bovine, leads us through New Orleans! 

Ship BreakerNailer works light crew, crawling into the beached wrecks of oil tackers to strip them of valuable copper wiring.  He lives day to day dependent on his ability to make quota and to avoid the unpredictable rage of his drug addicted father.  But suddenly it looks like Nailer has finally had some good luck when he stumbled upon a beautiful abandoned clipper ship--only to discover that it is not quite abandoned.  Now Nailer must decide between survival and the risky chance at a better life.  

Ship Breaker seems like a very apt choice for this year big YA lit prize, the Printz Award.  First, it's superb example of the dystopian/speculative fiction trend that has been so popular with teen readers this year. Bacigalupi paints a beautifully desolate and harsh picture of a future in which environmental exhaustion has helped the gap between wealthy and the desperate widen to catastrophic levels.  For Nailer, life is truly a struggle to survive day to day and Bacigalupi's writing places us right in the struggle with him.  

The novel also provokes a huge range of questions dealing with topics pulled right from the headlines: dependency on oil, environmental changes, the manipulative power of corporations, and people left behind by an unequal society.  It is a page turning adventure that will also make you think.  Ship Breaker also should appeal to diverse group of readers.  Older teens who enjoy thrilling adventure or were hooked on The Hunger Games would be likely be pretty quick sells on Ship Breaker.  

I couldn't put this book down and after finished it, I immediately paged back to reread the climax again so I could relive the thrill!  Check it out!   

5/5 STARS   


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