Monday, November 19, 2012

Ship Breaker is a Heart Breaker

     In America's Gulf Coast region, grounded oil tankers are being broken down for parts by crews of young people. Nailer, a teenage boy, works the light crew, scavenging for copper wiring just to make quota - and hopefully live to see another day. But when, by luck or by chance, he discovers an exquisite clipper ship beached during a recent hurricane, Nailer faces the most important decision of his life: Strip the ship for all it's worth or or rescue its lone survivor, a beautiful and wealthy girl who could lead him to a better life...

    I have to admit that what attracted me to Ship Breaker were the two shiny awards on its cover. Ship Breaker was a National Book Award finalist as well as the Michael L. Printz award for 2011. The last time I read a fantasy novel that was equally lauded, it was Nancy Farmer's House of the Scorpion, a book that I recommend to everyone who has not read it. Perhaps it was for this reason, the inevitable comparison to Farmer's masterpiece, that I went into Ship Breaker expecting so much more.

    Mind you, Ship Breaker is a well written book. The plot works well and the writing is often poetic, with wonderful imagery and world-building. But, it's the main character, Nailer, who leaves me flat. Yes, he is the victim of an abusive father and he does the right thing in circumstances where doing the right thing is not easy. However, he felt like a character I've met before and he didn't feel special or stand out in anyway.

    Oh, how I hate being critical. I know how hard it is to write and this book is really good on so many levels. Perhaps I am jaded. Perhaps I have read too many books in this genre. Or perhaps, a long time ago, I fell hard for House of the Scorpion, and no other book in this genre could ever live up to what I felt for that book. Such is the life of a reader I guess...


  1. I had the same thoughts. Loved the world, didn't care for the mc.

    1. Interesting that you felt the same way, Eliza. But that shiny award on the front cover always makes me feel as if I missed something :)