Really take a break from what ever you are reading right now and check out Ship Breaker by Paolo Bacigalupi (How do you think that name is pronounced?).
I finished Ship Breaker last week, sorry the review is a little behind, and it really was awesome. I had read some rumblings about it over the last few months and then when it won the Printz Award I decided it was worth my Borders gift cards. I was right, it is truly a great read.
The story takes place in a futuristic gulf coast. In this future the ice caps have melted and most of the coasts have been flooded. Oil is a thing of the past and huge high-tech sail boats have taken the place of big super tankers. Now that the big shipping boats are no longer needed a whole industry has developed to strip them and recycle everything. The crazy thing is that this is already a huge industry in Bangladesh.
The main character is Nailer, who works on a light crew wriggling through air ducts looking for copper wire and the like. He manages to escape a few tight spots in the beginning of the book and then he and his crew stumble on a wrecked luxury sailboat.
They immediately go looking for salvage and find a wealth of treasure that would set them all up for life. They also find a girl who looks dead, with gold around her neck and circling her fingers. What happens with her is chilling.
Of course the main problem comes out of this boat and it’s contents. Nailer’s drug addicted and abusive father finds the wreckage and his son’s stash which will lead to a wonderful conflict at the end of the book.
Nailer, like everybody else on the ship breaker crews is unable to read. This apocalyptic world has thrown human civilization back to an almost Medieval society structure and educational equivalent. As a teacher I loved the message in the end that finds Nailer learning to read and using that new knowledge to save his life. If he stays ignorant he dies. Doesn’t get more powerful than that!
Ship Breaker is written for a teen audience, so it does include some salty language and of course some violent content. If that kind of content bothers you I would look for another book, but if you enjoyed The Hunger Games and the violent actions in that book was not off-putting, the violence in this book is no stronger.
Take a break really…Ship Breaker is worth it.
ps. I have also finished a nonfiction book about World War I called The War to End all Wars by Russell Freedman. Look for a review soon.