Ship Breaker has some of the best world-building I've ever read. You might expect an epic post-apocalyptic sci-fi pirating novel to be a little far-fetched, but the world Bacigalupi has created felt so real, gritty, and complete I never questioned any aspect of the complex setting.
Nailer is a perfectly flawed hero. He's loyal and kind, yet fierce. I was swept away by the story and captivated by Bacgalupi's prose. The danger and desperation of Bright Sands Beach and Nailer's life of poverty and abuse felt so real, I ached for him to escape.
But more than just an excellent story, I was impressed with the women in this book. Bacigalupi created a stark dichotomy between rich and poor, or swank and ship breaker, and in doing so he was careful to craft whole and mutli-faceted female characters. So when Nailer meets Nita, their differences aren't about gender, but about economics and culture.
So often stories that follow the hero's journey have oversimplified archetypal females: the mother, the witch, and the
Even Nita who is weaker than the other girls because she's grown up in the lap of luxury and needs to be rescued a few times, is awfully tough and pretty smart. She helps to save herself like any self-respecting heroine should and she has an awesome line at the end basically telling Nailer to suck it up.
I also loved how Bacigalupi crafts the romance. Nailer's culture values hard-work and the ability to earn a living, so we know he's falling for Nita when he compliments her ability to skin eels.
Ship Breaker is a dark adventure with some tough chicks who hold their own.