Monday, February 20, 2012

Ship Breaker

In a futuristic world, Nailer, a teenage boy works stripping grounded ships of copper wiring to make quota for his harsh employer .  His employer is his father, an abusive and unpredictable man.  But when he and his friend Pima come across a clipper ship beached during a recent hurricane, he must make a very important decision.  This ship could set him up for life.  If he and Pima strip the ship before anyone else finds it, they’ll be very rich.  But there’s a problem.  A very beautiful and wealthy girl (a swank) is trapped on the ship.  Should Nailer rescue her and face an uncertain future (possibly even a better future), or should he let her die and take what he can from the ship, securing his financial situation forever?

This is a fast-paced thriller set in a believable future, where oil is scarce and life is harsh.  Nailer is a very likeable character who works hard and believes in loyalty.  Although his mother is gone and he can’t count on his father, Nailer has some true friends . His co-worker Pima, and her mother Sadna have always been there for him, even taking him in at night when he needed to get away from his addict father.  I really cared about Nailer and his friends and couldn't wait to see what the outcome of his big decision would be. 

I thoroughly enjoyed this novel.  Nailer lives in a dangerous world of drowned cities, where genetically engineered “half-men” are created to be loyal to their owners, and survival depends on so many unpredictable situations and who you know.   A National Book Award Finalist, and A Michael L. Printz Award Winner.   I highly recommend this for intermediate students. 


  1. Hi Maria,

    I was wondering how you felt about this as a grade 7 and 8 novel due to some of the language in it? I am listening to it on tape and love it as an adult. Just need some advise before I put it in my school library. Thanks.

  2. I loved Ship Breaker, and all I can remember about language is a few “hell” and “damn” words here and there. Are you hearing more inappropriate words as you listen? I do think this is a great novel for intermediate students; however, it really depends on your community and students.

    I think this story explores many big ideas. It’s a pretty grim future, so not surprising to have some edgy language. But again, I think it depends on if you think your students can handle it. I think if the situation calls for strong language, the story will be more credible. That’s not to say that other words should be used, if they fit the situation. I think most intermediate students will not find this book too harsh.

    I hope this helps. I’m sorry I don’t really remember any questionable words that would be inappropriate. When I’m really engrossed in a plot line, I don’t always remember the bad words! 