Postapocalyptic Adventure on the Gulf Coast: The Ship Breaker Trilogy by Paolo Bacigalupi
Paolo Bacigalupi’s breakout book was The Windup Girl (2009), which won the Hugo and Nebula Awards for Best Novel. He followed that triumph with his first New York Times bestseller, the National Book Award Finalist Ship Breaker (2010), the tale of a teenage boy in a future Gulf Coast devastated by the forces of climate change. Here’s the description.
In America’s flooded Gulf Coast region, oil is scarce, but loyalty is scarcer. Grounded oil tankers are being broken down for parts by crews of young people. Nailer, a teenage boy, works the light crew, scavenging for copper wiring just to make quota–and hopefully live to see another day. But when, by luck or by chance, he discovers an exquisite clipper ship beached during a recent hurricane, Nailer faces the most important decision of his life: Strip the ship for all it’s worth or rescue its lone survivor, a beautiful and wealthy girl who could lead him to a better life….
He followed Ship Breaker with The Drowned Cities, a 2012 Los Angeles Public Library Best Teen Book.
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In a dark future America where violence, terror, and grief touch everyone, young refugees Mahlia and Mouse have managed to leave behind the war-torn lands of the Drowned Cities by escaping into the jungle outskirts. But when they discover a wounded half-man — a bioengineered war beast named Tool — who is being hunted by a vengeful band of soldiers, their fragile existence quickly collapses. One is taken prisoner by merciless soldier boys, and the other is faced with an impossible decision: Risk everything to save a friend, or flee to a place where freedom might finally be possible.
Tool of War, the third book in the series, arrived in hardcover last month from Little, Brown Books for Young Readers.
Tool, a half-man/half-beast designed for combat, is capable of so much more than his creators had ever dreamed. He has gone rogue from his pack of bioengineered “augments” and emerged a victorious leader of a pack of human soldier boys. But he is hunted relentlessly by someone determined to destroy him, who knows an alarming secret: Tool has found the way to resist his genetically ingrained impulses of submission and loyalty toward his masters… The time is coming when Tool will embark on an all-out war against those who have enslaved him. From one of science fiction’s undisputed masters comes a riveting page-turner that pulls no punches.
Here’s the deets for all three books.
Ship Breaker (352 pages, $10.99 in paperback/$8.99 digital, October 3, 2011)
The Drowned Cities (464 pages, $10.99 in paperback/$8.99 digital, May 1, 2012)
Tool of War (384 pages, $17.99 in hardcover/$9.99 digital, October 10, 2017)
All three are still in print from Little Brown.
Listen to Emily Mah’s 2015 interview with Paolo here.
See all of our current coverage of the best fantasy series books here.