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A Lot or a Little?
What you will—and won't—find in this book.
This book is a good jumping off point for a discussion of the world's dependence on oil, the development of other technologies, world trade, consumerism, and unfair labor, as well as alcoholism and drug abuse.
On the surface, this is about making hard ethical choices. Loyalty is rewarded; bravery wins out. On a deeper level, it is about environmental and social issues: oil, trade, and the harsh world they created.
Positive Role Models
Even in this dark world, the more heroic characters are honest, hardworking, caring people who are loyal to their friends, especially the hero Nailer, his friend Pima, and her mother. They risk their lives several times to help each other, and that is what saves them in the end.
Violence & Scariness
Not only is the threat of violence omnipresent, but days are thick with gory knife fights and bloody battles with half-men, slashing machetes, clubs, teeth, and chains. Throats are cut, eyes gouged, and so on.
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Sex, Romance & Nudity
Nasty guys leer at a captured girl. Later, she and the hero feel flutterings of teen love. Girls and women who can't get any other job become prostitutes.
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Gritty language in a gritty world...these characters are tough and talk that way. Even the younger beach scavengers swear quite a bit.
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Drinking, Drugs & Smoking
All of the beach characters, young and old, drink black ling, beer, etc .The hero's father is an alcoholic and frequent drug user who becomes especially vile and dangerous when under the influence. He runs with a gang of equally threatening, hard-living drunks and addicts.
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Parents Need to Know
Parents need to know that this National Book Award Finalist is set in a dark futuristic world. It is full of fast-paced adventure and quite a lot of violence (gory knife fights and bloody battles in which throats are cut, eyes gouged, and so on). The hero survives with wit and an ability to make ethical choices. This book is a good jumping off point for a discussion of the world's
dependence on oil and unfair labor practices, as well as why dystopian novels are so popular -- and what they can teach us.
Is It Any Good?
From the first page to the last, one adventure after another will keep readers turning pages. Swash-buckling evil characters seem to be in charge, and around
every turn. Just as no escape seems possible, the heroes find a way. Just as they nearly break away, they are caught again and again.
But beyond the adventure, this book will challenge teens to mull over the bleak world of the ship breakers: How did their society come about? How can we avoid this fictional world becoming a reality? Readers will appreciate the difficult ethical choices the heroes, especially Nailer, struggle with -- and be relieved that the good ultimately manage to come out on top.
Did we miss something on diversity?
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Our Editors Recommend
Common Sense Media's unbiased ratings are created by expert reviewers and aren't influenced by the product's creators or by any of our funders, affiliates, or partners.See how we rate