Reading level: Young Adult
Genre: Science Fiction/Post-Apocalyptic
Size: 336 pages
Publisher: Little, Brown Books for Young Readers
Release Date: May 1, 2010
Stand Alone or Series: Stand Alone
Source: Audiobook from Audible.com
Rating: 4/5 stars
This is the second Paolo Bacigalupi book I have read; the first was The Windup Girl. I liked this book a lot better than The Windup Girl; while The Windup Girl was more complex it was also a lot slower moving. This book presents us with a post-apocalyptic world which is thought provoking and a story which moves at a good pace with intriguing characters. I listened to this on audiobook and the audiobook was very well done. The narrator is a little deliberate and talks kind of slowly, so I ended up listening to it at 1.25x the original speed, so that I could stay engaged.
Nailer works stripping down oilers, he’s part of the Light Crew…the crew that strips copper wire out of the ducts of old tankers. His life definitely isn’t the best; he has a father who beats him, barely enough food to survive, and the Light Crew work is grueling. But when a city-killing hurricane (category 6) hits their beach Nailer’s life changes. After the storm blows over him and his crew boss Pima find a clipper washed up on shore. There is enough in the clipper to make them filthy rich, but there is one complication they also find a girl who is still alive aboard. This girl complicates things and throws Nailer into a crazy adventure.
Like The Windup Girl this is a gritty novel. These people live in an ugly world that is run by corporations who don’t care what happens to humanity as long as they are making a profit. I find it a fascinating world (even if it is dark and dank) and it is interesting to read about. The world and the way it is run brings up a lot of political questions and questions around ethics. With this book though that is less central to the story than the journey of Nailer.
As in The Windup Girl none of the characters are all that likable, although at points Nailer comes close. They are very gritty and realistic though; they are what I imagine people surviving in those types of conditions might be like. They are interesting though. Outside of Nailer, we really don’t get to see into any of the characters heads…as a reader he is the only one we really get to know and connect with. This definitely isn’t a book focused on characterization.
It was an engaging story, so many horrible and lucky things happen to Nailer that it makes the outcome of the story very hard to predict. There are a lot of twists and turns, lots of action and adventure.
Overall I enjoyed the story more than The Windup Girl. The world presented is a creative and original one that is fascinating to read about. Characterization definitely takes a backseat to the plot itself. The plot is twisty turny and hard to predict, which makes the book very engaging. It was a decent post-apocalyptic young adult novel; it is mainly about the good and bad turns Nailer’s life takes. In the background issues about corporate responsibility, genetic engineering, and racism are addressed. People who enjoy dark and gritty worlds and sea adventures in a post-apocalyptic setting will probably enjoy this book.