August 30, 2011

Ship Breaker by Paolo Bacigalupi

In the near future, off the Gulf coast, Seventeen year old Nailer is part of a light crew whose mission is to strip old oil tankers of their valuable copper wire. Life is bitterly cruel, with little to live on and survival is dependent upon your personal will, wits and strength. Nailer's father is a sadistic drug user who is heartless and murders at whim. Nailer almost loses his life, when a crew mate abandons him after he falls in a pool of oil. Nailer faces another near death experience when a hurricane hits, and he decides to put his own life in danger to save his father. Following the hurricane, he discovers a ship wrecked cruiser, which has the promise to make him wealthy. While scavenging on board, he discovers the body of a teen-aged girl. Ready to cut off her fingers to take the gold surrounding them, he discovers she is alive. Torn if he should kill her, and take the bounty surrounding him, or save her, Nailer flashes on his own brush with death, and decides to spare her. He learns that the girl, Nita, is the daughter of a wealthy shipping company owner, and is being pursued by enemies of her father. The unlikely pair...a dirt poor crew member, and a wealthy "swank" form a relationship that is unlikely, yet compelling as they must escape their pursuers...Nailer's father and the enemies of Nita, who want her as a pawn to gain control of her father's wealth. A fascinating read, combining a violent dystopian world, with the strength and importance of trusting relationships.
Reed Reads Score: 4.5

August 2, 2011

Okay for Now by Gary D. Schmidt

You may remember Doug Swieteck from Gary Schmidt's Wednesday Wars. Doug is now the main character, in another warm Schmidt novel that takes place in the 70's. Doug is angry, and has good reason to be, with an abusive father, a cruel brother, and forced to move from Long Island to a small town in upstate New York as he enters the eighth grade. He hates his new town, he hates his new school, but finds solace when he visits the library where he discovers a book by James Audobon, and his beautiful illustrations of birds. The librarian, Mr. Powell, takes the time to teach Doug how to draw like Audobon. Doug is able to make parallels from what he sees in the drawings to his own life, which creates the organization for the book (each chapter is named and illustrated by one of the drawings from the book). Told in Doug's voice, you meet Lil Spicer whose friendship with Doug allows him to work for her father's grocery store, making grocery deliveries to people in the town, some of whom Doug gets close to. You will be angered and frustrated with Doug's father, his brother, Principal Peattie, and Coach Reed, but be uplifted by the others that support Doug in overcoming the adversity he faces. This book is touching, and will bring tears from the hurt Doug must confront, and joy from the support of those that care for him.
Read Reeds Score: 5