Merry Wanderer of the Night + [YA]

Award Winning Wednesday — Ship Breaker by Paolo Bacigalupi

Have you ever read a book that sounds amazing, that seems to have every element that will make it a fantastically amazing read, has a million things you pick up on that you just love, lots of thoughts on life, good writing, good characters, great depth, and gives you so much to talk about but somehow, even with all of that going for it, just doesn't really do it for you? Ship Breaker by Paolo Bacigalupi was that book for me.

I'm having such a hard time identifying my thoughts on this one, because I don't really actually have anything bad to say about this one. All that I said above is true. There is a lot of brilliance within these pages. But perhaps therein lies my problem with it. It is, perhaps, too caught up in its own brilliance. There is so much to learn from this book. It tackles so many issues. I started to list all the ones I picked up on, but decided after 14 that it was a bit much for this review. The only thing I can think of that makes me not love this book as much as I logically should is that there is just too much hidden behind the words, perhaps too much that the book is trying to teach us and a few of the sections felt a little less... real because of this.

I hate trying to review a book where I can't actually pinpoint my dissatisfaction. I like being able to spot and say exactly where the book didn't quite work for me, so it makes me a little uncomfortable that I can't do that with this one. I want to be able to clearly iterate why I didn't love the book as much as I'd expected too, as much as many other people have.

Now don't get me wrong. This is a very well done book. I don't normally write down favorite quotes, but this one had me copying down several. And the things you can learn from this book, although plentiful, aren't terribly overbearing, especially on their own.

One of the strongest discussions throughout the book is what it means to be human, and if it's ever alright to treat someone as less than human. There are class differences and racial differences at play here and both sides look down on the others. The really poor, like Nailer, our main character, look down on the rich and wealthy. They look down on the people who pay the small children of the poor to crawl inside rotting and rusting ships hoping for small pieces of scrap they can sell, so they can eat. The rich look down on the poor as the extremely wealthy have been known to do throughout all kinds of history. When Nailer and his friend stumble across one of the wealthy and have the opportunity to become rich or to save this girl's life, everything changes.

Loyalty is also a huge theme in this story and when loyalty can go too far. Morals and ethics are debated, lives are changed and the reader is left with thoughts that should nudge about their brain for days and weeks and months. And right there... I think I just identified why I am not as enthralled as so many others are. And it's that, right there. While reading and directly after I knew that this book was supposed to be one of those books that would resonate and stay with you for a long time, perhaps even changing the way you think and view the world. And for a great many people, it has done that. But for me, it missed the mark. I knew after finishing that while I would remember details of the book, the same way I remember details of most of what I read, it is not a book that would stay with me the way that those books who make my favorites list do. And that was disappointing because I was fully expecting it to.

Anyway, this is still a book that I strongly recommend, that I think is important to read. And perhaps it will surprise me. Perhaps the important parts of the book will come back to me at odd times to settle in and make me think. This is also a book that I fully intend to reread. I have a feeling it's one of those books that is even better on the reread.

And now, for the first time, I'm going to end my review with my favorite quotations from the book. I'm not going to give you any background on where or why they are spoken, (perhaps this will encourage you to read the book...) but they really are lines that will make you think, lines that make you questions and quotes that make you wonder.

"The only reason you think you've got morals is because you don't need the money the way regular people do." pg. 194

"Killing isn't free. It takes something out of you every time you do it. You get their life, they get a piece of your soul. It's always a trade." pg. 174

"Lucky girl used to look at me the same way you're looking at me. And now she doesn't. That's why I'm going with you. No other reason. Got it?" pg. 253


Award Winning Wednesday — Ship Breaker by Paolo Bacigalupi {YA}