Atomics Special – Loughborough Grammar School

Atomics Special – Loughborough Grammar School

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Over the summer, everyone at Loughborough Grammar School had the opportunity to read Ship Breaker by Paolo Bacigalupi for a special edition of the Atomics.

Loughborough librarian Val has helped us to choose a selection of reviews so that you call all see what they thought!

Adam Aussaoui-Helecké, Year 7

In his award-winning novel, Paolo Bacigalupi transports you to a dystopian world set a hundred years in the future. This is a dying world, engulfed in a stinking, stagnant cesspool of poverty and dishonesty. Nailer (the book's main character) works on Bright-Sands beach, breaking up ancient oil tankers and cargo ships. Not only that, but he is constantly terrorized by his always intoxicated thug-of-a-father.

Then Nailer's world changes dramatically one day when he finds one of the sleek white new ships called clippers wrecked on some rocks. But little does Nailer know that it will change his life . . . for the worse.

I couldn't put Ship Breaker down! It really was a treat and a gem of a novel for me.


Ethan Stratford, Year 8

Award winning book Ship Breaker is a novel written by an American author, Paolo Bacigalupi, who also wrote a book called the Wind-Up Girl. Ship Breaker is a novel about earth in the not-too-distant future, oil is low and the gap in poverty is greater than ever before. The story's main character, Nailer, is a ship breaker, someone who goes through the wrecked hulls of oil rigs which have been left on the shores to rust. His main task is to search for the remaining oil and metal in the rigs. All day crawling through asbestos infested tunnels stripping out copper wire before returning home to a drug-fuelled father, Richard Lopez whose troubled life made him become a drug addict, who also took pleasure in beating Nailer. This cruel harsh life isn't easy for Nailer, but after almost drowning in a pool of oil his luck comes in the form of a clipper ship, the vessel that the rich sail. But what he finds is much more interesting . . .

I found this dystopian novel a treat to read, the book made many exciting twists and turns, the book also evolved as it went on, the plot changed and the moral of the story became something entirely different. The characters were also well thought-out. For example, my favourite character, Tool the half-man, was quite an unknown character at the start, and was a mysterious figure, but he matured as the book went on. You found out more about him and his past, how he thought and what he believed was right. I think the book's moral was about poverty, about how the gap had become so big. The book also made an excellent opening for a sequel. I thought Paolo Bacigalupi did an excellent job on this book and I look forward to reading what he writes next.


Charlie Lallo, Year 9

The story was very inspiring. I really enjoyed reading this book, I couldn't put it down when I picked it up.


Daniel Alford and Tian Ren Chen, Year 13

Ship Breaker was an interesting and thought-provoking book. The characters seemed realistic and sympathetic and the setting vivid and imaginative. It gave insight into every character and raised some interesting points regarding what it means to be human.

For a science fiction story, the premise was surprisingly believable.

The book, however, did leave a bit to be desired. While the action was vivid and fast-paced at time, the difference between they styles used for voice and that used for description was rather jarring and while the world was incredibly detailed, certain aspects were often raised and then left unexplained.

Despite this, the book is refreshing and colourful and the dystopia in which is was set allowed for a gripping read. A real page turner!

Thanks to Loughborough Grammar School, and especially to Adam, Ethan, Charlie, Daniel and Tian!

You can read an extract from Ship Breaker here, and you can find out more about the Atomics here.

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