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jcunningham

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Ermahgerd. Berks.

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Caliban's War
James S.A. Corey
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The Shining Girls

Ship Breaker

Ship Breaker - This book is a really good example of why I almost always find YA literature unsatisfying: I am, sadly, no longer a YA (though my A status might be called into question from time to time).See, I just finished this book called The Windup Girl, which is about a post-oil society in which man's unchecked manipulation of the environment - from drilling into the ground to extract oil to drilling into the very DNA (see what I did there?) of plants, animals and even people to create "better" (more profitable) food, more "productive" (profitable) sources of meat, more "perfect" (controllable) humans - has devastating results. It's an ambitious, harrowing, difficult book, with an expertly drawn cast of characters, none of whom you'd want to call a hero or even a friend, but you ache for them because you know exactly why they do, and are forced to do, the sometimes terrible things they do to survive in a world we might be making right now.Ship Breaker, which happens to be by the same very talented guy, Paolo Bacigalupi, takes all those big ideas and crams them into a wholly pedestrian YA template, sketches the interesting details, and concentrates too hard on a simplistic, predictable plot. Don't get me wrong: there are some cool details. The notion that in a society strapped for resources, the remains of the excessive waste of our era - including huge oil tankers - would be stripped for resources by bands of glorified slave laborers (many of them children, because they can slip their soft, supple bodies into tight ducts and tubes and such) is a pretty good one, and from what we see of it, not at all far-fetched, since its a condition that basically already exists in much of the third world, where children literally live in the dumps they scavenge for scrap they sell to survive. Then there are the other amusements, like hey, genetically bred creatures that are half-man, half-dog, which is obviously a commentary on, um, our modern day exploitation of... MacGruff? I had fun debating whether this one takes place in the same world as Windup Girl, and if so, if it's the same era.But an interesting world doesn't make an interesting book, and the plot really didn't do it for me, mostly because once it finally gets going, it's a lot of waiting around, then a lot of traveling, then a big action scene, and it all goes exactly how you think it will, right down to the rather lame and poorly justified romantic angle. The people who expect to be good are good, the ones you think are secretly eviiiil are evil, etc. I know it's for teenagers, but I am writing this review for other adults (if not, sorry about any swearing), and I was bored.Credit where it's due: Bacigalupi lets his main character do some nasty stuff, like contemplate muder and even kill a few people. In this respect, at least, he has more balls (um) than Suzanne Collins, who never quite lets Katniss be totally badass in Hunger Games Trilogy Boxset (you know what I mean: she's about to brutally kill someone when oh no! he slips and falls on a landmine!). I think she only murders for sport once in the series to date, and it's not a very cold-blooded killing at that. Not to rag on that series, because I like it a lot more than Ship Breaker, and Katniss would totally annihilate whoever the nondescript main character of Ship Breaker is (name?). Provided, you know, he wasn't first unexpectedly attacked by genetically modified bees.