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Tom_alaerts (Tom_alaerts)
Username: Tom_alaerts

Registered: 03-2008
Posted From:
Posted on Monday, July 05, 2010 - 01:35 pm:   


In the weekend I read a highly interesting and relevant new “young adult” novel that can just as well be enjoyed by adults. In fact it’s a little dark for young teenagers:

“Ship breaker” by Paolo Bacigalupi which takes places in a post peak oil close future with all the ravages from global warming.
We follow the adventures of a teenager who (barely) keeps himself alive by stripping old stranded ships like oil tankers from their copper wires etc. He dreams of a better life.
The close-future story is remarkably believable, and the author (an upcoming superstar of intelligent adult SF novels, written in an elegant style) writes about subjects close to his heart, in fact his previous books, the collection “Pump Six” and the novel “The wind-up girl” (both aimed at adults) explore much the same themes.
“Ship Breaker” is similar in style (hence rather dark and even scary –the boy’s father is extremely violent- in moments) yet more readable, less dense than his (also highly recommended) adult work.

It is interesting that the story takes place at the Gulf coast, and was published just before the oil spill tragedy. Talking about timing.

I wonder if writer Bacigalupi got his inspiration from the awesome ship breaker photos by Edward Burtynsky, a talented artist who’s interested in how humans modify landscapes, and one of his photo series is about ship breakers in Sri Lanka, if I remember well.
Go to and click on the left on “ships” and then on “ship breaking”. These were the (strangely aesthetic and elegant) pictures I had in mind while reading the novel.

Anyway, the book gets only 4 and 5 star reviews wherever you look.

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