The Age of Affluence ended when the coastal cities drowned as the icecaps melted. Many now eke out a living digging through the detritus of the past. Nailer is a scrawny teenaged scavenger who finds a broken clipper ship after a storm. There’s only one survivor, Nita, a swank girl who fled internecine feuding in her trading clan. To protect her from his psychotic father and others who would sell her to her enemies, they go on the run to Orleans, with the aid of a “half-man”.
Bacigalupi’s drowned world seems all-too plausible. In this dystopia, the lines between haves and have-nots are stark. Nailer makes an appealing protagonist, a boy with nothing who saves a girl who had everything.