Tool of War by Paolo Bacigalupi

Vertigo

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Tool of War is the third book in Bacigalupi’s Ship Breaker trilogy. Whilst these books are ostensibly young adult, I would probably have placed them at the older end of that spectrum. The main protagonists might be young in years but they’re certainly old in experience, there’s no real bad language but I would have described some of the themes as rather more adult with boy soldiers and considerable amounts of pretty grim death. But there again Hunger Games! So, who am I to comment except to say that I usually don’t like YA but I do like these books!

Tool of War continues the augment dog-man Tool’s story as he works towards taking full control of the Drowned Cities but his old masters are taking an unwelcome interest and it’s about to get personal. A number of his friends from the previous two books are also along for the ride. But whilst the child soldiers were the main focus of the previous book Tool himself is definitely front stage this time fighting a corporate dominated world that seems all too plausible.

I enjoyed both of the previous books but feel this one is probably the strongest so far. It has a good strong storyline and I think the characters are all given considerably more depth than in the previous books. He does a much better job, I feel, of putting the reader inside their heads. We also get to learn much more about Tool’s past which makes him somewhat less mysterious but a lot easier to empathise with. The grim dystopian future world Bacigalupi has created manages to be both desperately depressing whilst also holding out hope for the future. A delicate balancing act that he has executed with considerable aplomb.

A very good finale to a good solid trilogy and I’d love to see this world revisited.

4/5 stars.
 

Vertigo

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I think it is a good solid trilogy but they do need to be read in order as there is a thread moving through all three with characters from the first two appearing in this one. Also I'm not sure you'd 'get' the world without reading the first two. But worth it in my opinion. The second is probably the most horrific with strong child soldier POV.
 

The Judge

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Reading your review I was struck by the thought that I'd read some Bacigalupi, but couldn't think what, so I went and had a look at the lists I've been keeping for the last few years, and it turns out it was The Drowned Cities. I had no idea it was meant to be YA, nor that it was the second of a series!

I see that you gave TDC 4/5 starts when you did a mini-review in 2018, but although I'd read it only 3 years before that, nothing in your review rang a bell then, or now. I'm not sure if that's my failing memory, or just that I read it very differently from you, because all I remembered was that there was a lot of fighting in a US which had splintered into factions, and that I really didn't enjoy it. I see from notes I made at the time that I thought it was fast moving, and technically very good, but I found the heavy-handed anti-war message wearisome and the premise unconvincing. I was also annoyed by what I described as "a beauty-and-the-beast plot that was wholly unbelievable and
a happyish ending that was utterly out of place in view of all that had gone before."
Did we read the same book?! :p Actually, now you've said it's YA I imagine I was picking up on the YAish elements without realising they were for the YA readership and it's those which so annoyed me.
 

Vertigo

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Since @Vertigo has never steered me wrong. I've bought Ship Breaker --- I like the sound of it, but the $9 price tag made me think twice.
Be warned Parson, they are violent and do show human nature at its worst, but at the same time they do show the main protagonists striving to overcome it. This is effectively a post apocalyptic world although there hasn't really been an apocalypse just the slow continual grind of global warming. Ship Breaker begins in an environment that already exists today with the breaking up of ships deliberately driven aground for that purpose and, in particular, with small children 'employed' to go salvaging into places on those ships that adults are too big for. Nasty dangerous work that children are already doing today in many parts of the world. So this is pretty dark and dystopian.
Reading your review I was struck by the thought that I'd read some Bacigalupi, but couldn't think what, so I went and had a look at the lists I've been keeping for the last few years, and it turns out it was The Drowned Cities. I had no idea it was meant to be YA, nor that it was the second of a series!

I see that you gave TDC 4/5 starts when you did a mini-review in 2018, but although I'd read it only 3 years before that, nothing in your review rang a bell then, or now. I'm not sure if that's my failing memory, or just that I read it very differently from you, because all I remembered was that there was a lot of fighting in a US which had splintered into factions, and that I really didn't enjoy it. I see from notes I made at the time that I thought it was fast moving, and technically very good, but I found the heavy-handed anti-war message wearisome and the premise unconvincing. I was also annoyed by what I described as "a beauty-and-the-beast plot that was wholly unbelievable and
a happyish ending that was utterly out of place in view of all that had gone before."
Did we read the same book?! :p Actually, now you've said it's YA I imagine I was picking up on the YAish elements without realising they were for the YA readership and it's those which so annoyed me.
I think your last sentence may have hit the nail on the head and I think much of the 'happily ever after' aspect may have been included to present some hope for the future for the YA audience. I can see exactly what you mean about the beauty and the beast element but I also think that maybe becomes a bit more understandable in this final book. However I would agree that if I had not read this as a specifically YA book it almost certainly would have dropped a star for exactly the reasons you suggest. He does get a bit heavy handed with his anti-war, anti-corporate and doomsday-environmental-collapse messages but these days I think there are an awful lot of books doing the same sort of thing. A number of Richard Morgan's books (Thirteen (aka Black Man), Thin Air, Market Forces) cover similar topics but without the children and the YA element and are that bit more brutal and with less redemption/hope.
 

Parson

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Be warned Parson, they are violent and do show human nature at its worst, but at the same time they do show the main protagonists striving to overcome it. This is effectively a post apocalyptic world although there hasn't really been an apocalypse just the slow continual grind of global warming. Ship Breaker begins in an environment that already exists today with the breaking up of ships deliberately driven aground for that purpose and, in particular, with small children 'employed' to go salvaging into places on those ships that adults are too big for. Nasty dangerous work that children are already doing today in many parts of the world. So this is pretty dark and dystopian.
Dark and Dystopian I can handle. I've read John's Apocalypse more than once. (45 times?) It's hopeless that sends me round the bend.

Thanks for the warning!
 
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