Booklist’s 1000 Best Young Adult Books Since 2000
Booklist Reviews 2010 May #2
*Starred Review* This YA debut by Bacigalupi, a rising star in adult science fiction, presents a dystopian future like so many YA sf novels. What is uncommon, though, is that although Bacigalupi's future earth is brilliantly imagined and its genesis anchored in contemporary issues, it is secondary to the memorable characters. In a world in which society has stratified, fossil fuels have been consumed, and the seas have risen and drowned coastal cities, Nailer, 17, scavenges beached tankers for scrap metals on the Gulf Coast. Every day, he tries to "make quota" and avoid his violent, drug-addicted father. After he discovers a modern clipper ship washed up on the beach, Nailer thinks his fortune is made, but then he discovers a survivor trapped in the wreckage—the "swank" daughter of a shipping-company owner. Should he slit the girl's throat and sell her for parts or take a chance and help her? Clearly respecting his audience, Bacigalupi skillfully integrates his world building into the compelling narrative, threading the backstory into the pulsing action. The characters are layered and complex, and their almost unthinkable actions and choices seem totally credible. Vivid, brutal, and thematically rich, this captivating title is sure to win teen fans for the award-winning Bacigalupi. Copyright 2009 Booklist Reviews.
Horn Book Guide Reviews 2010 Fall
In a dystopian future America, "ship breaker" Nailer discovers a wrecked clipper ship and its sole survivor, Nita. Nailer chooses to protect Nita and help find her family. Bacigalupi's novel vividly depicts a bleak vision: a "whole waterlogged world...torn down by the patient work of changing nature." This thriller will grab readers' attentions as Nailer and Nita "crew up" to survive. Copyright 2010 Horn Book Guide Reviews.
Horn Book Magazine Reviews 2010 #4
Teenaged Nailer is living in a dystopian future America where climate change and humankind have wreaked havoc on the land and society. Nailer works as a ship breaker, scavenging copper wiring from the insides of abandoned oil tankers being disassembled along the Gulf Coast. A life-altering, near-death experience-he gets trapped in a chamber filled with oil ("I'm going to drown in goddamn money")-is just the beginning of Nailer's adventures as he survives a hurricane and then discovers a wrecked clipper ship and its sole survivor, a rich girl named Nita. Nailer chooses to protect her from harm and help her find her family even though it means leaving behind the only home-and means of survival-he's ever known. With Nailer's menacing and abusive father, vicious half-men, and a corrupt shipping company all after them, Nailer and Nita journey to the drowned city of Orleans in the hope of rescue. Nebula Award winner Bacigalupi's debut YA novel vividly depicts a bleak vision: a "whole waterlogged world...torn down by the patient work of changing nature." It is difficult for characters to know who to trust as money and greed separate the haves from the have-nots and dictate loyalty. This thriller will grab and keep readers' attentions as Nailer and Nita "crew up" in their fight to survive. Copyright 2010 Horn Book Magazine Reviews.
PW Reviews 2010 April #3
SF novelist Bacigalupi (The Windup Girl) makes a stellar YA debut with this futuristic tale of class imbalance on the Gulf Coast. Teenage Nailer scavenges ships with his crewmates, eking out a poverty-filled existence while avoiding dangers that range from giant "city killer" hurricanes to his vicious, drug-addicted father. When a storm strands a beautiful shipping heiress on the beach (earning her the nickname "Lucky Girl"), Nailer manages both to infuriate members of his camp (including his father) and to become embroiled in upper-class trade disputes that he barely comprehends. As Nailer and Lucky Girl escape toward the drowned ruins of New Orleans, they witness rampant class disparity on individual and international levels (tribes whose lands were flooded have taken to the seas as pirates, attacking multinational shipping firms). Bacigalupi's cast is ethnically and morally diverse, and the book's message never overshadows the storytelling, action-packed pacing, or intricate world-building. At its core, the novel is an exploration of Nailer's discovery of the nature of the world around him and his ability to transcend that world's expectations. Ages 12–up. (May)[Page 54]. Copyright 2010 Reed Business Information.