The 100 Best YA Books of All Time
August 11, 2021 7:36 AM EDT

Paolo Bacigalupi has often written dystopian novels about the aftermath of environmental collapse, and his first young-adult book, published in 2010, is no different. In Ship Breaker, the polar ice caps have melted and humanity has reverted to a near-feudal existence where Nailer, a teenager under the abusive care of a drug-addicted father, works on a crew scavenging copper and other valuable materials from derelict ships on the shores of the now-underwater Gulf Coast region. An accident introduces Nailer to the stranded daughter of a powerful local merchant, and the two embark on a perilous adventure towards safety and, hopefully, a new home. Ship Breaker was a National Book Award finalist and was followed by two sequels, The Drowned Cities in 2012 and Tool of War in 2017. The novel renders painfully realistic consequences of climate change through the eyes of an adolescent, exposing young readers to the importance of environmental stewardship and presenting a sobering look at a possible future. —Peter Allen Clark

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