In this world, global warming has caused the destruction of cities like New Orleans as the water levels rose. People no longer use oil to power ships. Clipper ships sail extraordinarily fast, powered by sails shot by cannon up into the upper atmosphere. People live on a beach scavenging from the wrecks of oil-powered ships. When little, they form light crews, crawling through ducts with phosphorus paint on their foreheads to create light. They pull old copper wiring and whatever else they can find. After a growth spurt a child has to hope they grow robust to work on the heavy crews, pulling off iron plates. In between sized children are at the mercy of gang lords.
Our hero has a moral dilemma. He discovers a clipper wreck loaded with rich scavenge. If he and his crew can control the wreck, they will be rich and can stop working the wrecks. However, he and a friend discover one survivor. If they kill her, they are rich. But can he take a human life? Of a beautiful young girl? Or will she be more valuable alive? What can they do about the bad guys who chased her into the City Killer storm?
If you like Hunger Games, you will like this book. Warning: there are some scary parts involving mutant dog people, the hero’s alcoholic, abusive father, and lots of machetes.
This is the author’s first novel for young adults. It was a National Book Award Finalist. The author has won previous awards in the science fiction community.
Bacigalupi, Paolo. (2010). Ship Wrecker. New York: Little, Brown and Company. 326 pages.