Set in a future where oil is scarce and climate change has ravaged the U.S. Gulf Coast, Nailer works the light crew that scavenges lighter metal materials and fittings from old tankers along the beach for money. His mother is dead, and his father is a drug-addicted, unpredictable, mean and abusive drunkard. After a "city killer" storm attacks the coast where Nailer lives in utter poverty, he and his best friend Pima discover an expensive private clipper washed ashore. They begin to scavenge as many riches from it as possible before anyone else discovers it's there. In the process, they find a girl aboard who survived the crash, and Nailer must decide if he'll save her or let her die. Saving her means not only that he'll lose the opportunity to scavenge from her boat, but he'll also be putting his life in danger to protect her from his father and other political forces much bigger than any he's known. What follows is a series of ethical decisions, complex moral revelations, and lots of adventure and suspense. It's probably a bit more of a "guy" book than a "girl" book, but some girls should like it. (I did, afterall.) I will definitely be recommending it often and to many people. The story was unique and suspenseful with fantastic characters (and violence), but what I think I loved the most was the way the world and the setting were established. That's not usually something that is very significant to me, but in this case Bacigalupi did such an amazing job at showing (not telling!) how deplorable the conditions are and how the climate had affected the world. You could really imagine the danger and the grime and the rust that infused their daily lives.
I don't love the cover because I don't think it really captures attention on the shelf, but I personally like the colors and hopefully I can push it on to some students.