Continuing in the gritty backdrop of Ship Breaker Paolo Bacigalupi continues to churn out exemplary books that center around a dreary, bleak future. Although his prior novel was a bit limited in scope this one more than compensates as he presents a diverse group of characters struggling to get by as factions wage war against each other over a desolate landscape.Like his earlier works, there’s nary a laugh in sight. Mahlia is of mixed race, wise beyond her years who daily faces potential brutality because the soldiers consider her a collaborator. Tool is a genetically constructed killer who turns out to be the most engaging character in the book. At first he seems heartless and brutal but he’s not such a bad guy once you get to know him.The world-building is beyond excellent but the author doesn’t just wow us with the details. He shows the dark side of human nature all too well, be it how acting only for the short term can lead to disastrous consequences or how unjust people can be to others. This is no flimsy dystopia with a love triangle. This is a powerful book, with even more impact than the first one in the series. I’m talking a right to the jaw the fighter is down type impact. Because of its content this isn’t the easiest book in the world to read but it admirably showcases the talent of the author. A must read for anyone who has enjoyed his earlier work. 4 ½ stars.