Tuesday, August 3, 2010
SHIP BREAKER pulsates with energy from page 1 as we follow Nailer into the narrow, claustrophobic passages of a dead freighter on the search for copper wire to make his quota and justify his place on his work team. As Nailer confronts challenge after challenge in a series of escalating cinematic action sequences, we also really get inside his head and root for him unabashedly.
Because this is much more than a post-apocalyptic adventure novel – it’s also got great characters. Nailer is not perfect, but he’s clever and retains a certain level of basic human decency and compassion even when most of the world’s population seems to have abandoned such luxuries. That he wants so badly to do the right thing – the good thing – is a testament to the resilience of the human spirit. And the cool thing is – that instinct pays off.
The other major character here is Nita, and she’s a great counterpoint to Nailer. She grew up rich and pampered, but that “swank” life doesn’t do her much good on the run, and she learns to admire Nailer’s resourcefulness and survival skills. Nita represents a possible improvement of Nailer’s lot in life, but she’s characterized to be so much more complex than a mere golden goose. Her relationship with Nailer is fascinating to watch develop.
Supporting characters are also diverse and well-drawn. Tool, the” half man” is especially noteworthy and ties to the theme of loyalty that is thread throughout the narrative (as does Pima, Nailer’s friend from the light crew, albeit in a radically different way). And Nailer’s father? One of the most terrifying fictional guys I’ve come across lately.
There are a few places where the plot disappoints a bit, devolving into a sort of panicked “run for your life” mode that I never can totally get into, but those bits aside, this is an ambitious, rollicking ride that sparkles with originality and complexity.
Oh, and there is a sequel planned! SHIP BREAKER II – THE DROWNED CITIES will be out sometime next year. I can't wait! Find out more about it and the author, when I post my interview with him later on (which includes a book giveaway!)
My Rating – 4 Zombie Chickens: An Excellent Example of the Dystopian (Post-Apocalyptic) Genre
See index of all dystopian reviews on Presenting Lenore