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Ship Breaker - Paolo Bacigalupi
"Listen, Nailer. You're not your dad. If you were your dad, you'd be down on the beach, drinking with your friends, looking for a girl to keep you company tonight, and feeling pleased with yourself. You wouldn't be up here worrying about why you don't feel worse."

I've run across a couple of books recently that used nature-versus-nurture arguments to explore the relationships between fathers and sons. First it was Barry Lyga's [b:I Hunt Killers|7766027|I Hunt Killers (Jasper Dent, #1)|Barry Lyga|http://d202m5krfqbpi5.cloudfront.net/books/1333289403s/7766027.jpg|10644152], now Paolo Bacigalupi's Ship Breaker. Once you read them, you'll understand why Jazz and Nailer are scared to death of growing up to be like their fathers. Talk about two murderous men! Both books hold out hope that the boys can overcome or avoid any sort of ruthless gene and live lives marked by meaningful, healthy relationships. Personally, I feel Lyga made the better effort this time.

There's plenty to like about Bacigalupi's Ship Breaker. The man can build the heck out of an uncomfortable, climate change-ravaged world. If Ship Breaker and [b:The Windup Girl|6597651|The Windup Girl|Paolo Bacigalupi|http://d202m5krfqbpi5.cloudfront.net/books/1278940608s/6597651.jpg|6791425] provide any indication, human civilizations can expect more than a little strain to come from a warming, more turbulent climate. Bacigalupi's depiction of life on Bright Sands Beach is brutally awesome. Nailsheds (aka shacks for prostitution), Scavenge Gods, Fates, Rust Saints, inter-clan rivalries, oil slicks, "city-killer" storms, shells of long-dead oil tankers strewn about the beach and shallows, lots of sacrificial blood-letting--it's a scary place! I loved the imaginitive world-building. It's the predictability of the story I could do without.

Nothing unpredictable happens in Ship Breaker. The sort-of good guys sort-of win, the wealthy heiress sort-of falls for the poor scavenger. It has all the makings of a dystopian Horatio Algerian romp. It's the type of novel where you can guess where the story's going by the midpoint. Additionally, the last half of the book felt rushed to me. What exactly was the relationship between Nailer's dad and the rebellious members of the Patel shipping cartel? Why did these cartel members decide to partner with him? What was life like for Pima and Sadna on Bright Sands Beach after Nailer, Nina, and Tool hopped the train to Orleans? How did they escape torture at the hands of Nailer's dad? Bacigalupi took his time in building the worlds of Bright Sands Beach and Orleans. Why does the action in the second half not receive the same attention? Ship Breaker could have used another 100 pages or so, I think.

To be fair, the details may come in the remaining installments of the Ship Breaker series. Just in case, I'll pick up [b:The Drowned Cities|12814594|The Drowned Cities (Ship Breaker, #2)|Paolo Bacigalupi|http://d202m5krfqbpi5.cloudfront.net/books/1333712780s/12814594.jpg|13677912] at the library asap. We'll see!