Ship Breaker tells the story of Nailer and his struggle to survive in the cruel and unforgiving world of Bright Sands Beach. In this world after oil, Nailer and his “crew” eke out a living as “ship breakers” who strip copper wiring and other valuable metals from the shipwrecks littering the beach. Because of global warming, rising sea levels and intensified storms provide them with plenty of ships to scavenge, but they are forced to work in a scavenge system which leaves them with little money to show for their labor. The workers all dream of finding their own “Lucky Strike” like a former laborer who struck it rich by discovering and profiting from a pocket of oil hidden within a shipwreck. Nailer makes his own big discovery, and it could lead to his enrichment or his doom.
I liked the premise and plot of this story, but I didn’t feel connected enough to the characters to really love this book. The global warming ravaged world provides a great setting for the hardscrabble story, and I enjoyed the author’s descriptions of the “drowned cities” of New Orleans and Orleans II. This depiction of the potential effects of climate change may or may not become reality, but it makes for great science fiction. Unlike the Hunger Games, Ship Breaker did not leave me desperate to get my hands on the next book in the series, but I am eager to read the sequel and learn more about Nailer’s fate.