Imagine the Gulf Coast of America, somewhere in the near future, where the ravages of hurricanes, the like of which we’ve never experienced is now the norm. Oil is so scarce there is no longer a need for oil tankers and they are now just left abandoned at the mercy of the scavenger crews that inhabit the area.

Now imagine a crew of children, small enough to fit through the service ducts in these hulking ships, who are sent into the bowels to strip the copper wire, which can then be sold for top dollar on the black market, and who are then discarded when they become too big to do the dark, dirty and dangerous work.

In Ship Breaker, Paolo Bacigalupi provides just such a setting for his first foray into young adult literature.  This, however is not just a novel for young people.  It is well written, attested to by being a US National Book Award finalist and the winner of the Michael L. Printz award and is a complex tale of the haves and the have-nots and what people will do to get what they want.

Through the main character of Nailer, a teenage boy with no mother and a violently addicted father, his interactions with others, his quest to better himself and the choices he makes along the way speaks about the human condition and what we would be capable of, if pushed.

Read it.  You won’t regret it.

And then if you want to know more about this talented author, you might like to read an interview with him in YALSA – The Hub, your connection to teen reads from March of this year.