My rating: 2 of 5 stars
The futuristic maritime premise of this book is creative, and it is a very quick read. The novel is also well targeted for an audience of 10-12 year olds. However, the characters fall flat and come out overly similar: although Bacigalupi tries to make them speak and act distinctly, by the end they had all meld together into one version of "Nailer" or another. The plot moves too quickly in the beginning and fails to flesh out the actual lives of ship breakers enough for readers to form compassionate connections with any of the characters. This leaves the reader devoid of any emotion attachment for the remainder of the novel, as it rushes through climax after climax.
Still, any 10-year-old adventure-loving boy who would enjoy the likes of the action-packed Animorphs series or would prefer a less literary version of Lord of the Flies would enjoy this novel. Its feverish adventure-driven pace smacks of a more childish, futuristic version of Pirates of the Caribbean II. If marketed well, it should find its niche.