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Worldshaker / by Richard Harland

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Title: Worldshaker
Author: Richard Harland

Publisher: Simon & Schuster Books for Young Readers 
ISBN: 978-1416995524
Year: 2010

Concepts: trade, exchange, class, scarcity, poverty.

Review: Even though he was just a teenager, Col Porpentine stood next in line to become the supreme commander of Worldshaker, a city-sized juggernaut that could navigate both land and sea.  His grandfather, the current commander, had already begun to teach him about the physical structure of the colossal vessel and its main functions.  Besides housing more than 10,000 people in the upper decks and about 2,100 “filthies” (purportedly sub-humans who shoveled coal into the ships furnaces), Worldshaker also traveled around the globe, trading manufactured goods for raw materials.  The supreme commander had the responsibility of planning the routes that would maximize profits.

Or so Col was lead to believe.  His admiration for his grandfather and pride in training for that position began to crumble when one of the filthies escaped and found her way into Col’s cabin.  She was certainly not sub-human and Col felt an instant attraction.  When he learned more about where the filthies came from and how the Worldshaker actually dealt with less privileged people, Col decided to embark on a very different path from the one dictated by the Porpentine family legacy.

 Set in the Victorian era with a science-fiction twist, this young-adult novel presents a gripping tale of the economic and social subordination of the lower-class working poor.  Although the plot is somewhat predictable, action-packed pages from beginning to end keep the reader entertained while encouraging them to think about what it takes to break free from the stranglehold of the ruling elite.

Review by: Rutgers University Project on Economics and Children

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