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This is an outstanding dystopian work with a strong environmental flavor. Following catastrophic disasters relating to both energy sources and food production, Thailand leads a precarious existence as a partially-sheltered enclave. Power struggles between internal political factions interact with the machinations of foreigners. At the same time, the life of the wind-up girl of the title mirrors these tensions, and she is not quite what she seems. The characters are well-drawn, the tone is dark, sometimes horrific, and the storyline strong and unpredictable. It is hard to believe that this is a debut novel, given the level of maturity it displays. Italian author Paolo Bacigalupi is definitely one to watch closely in the future. The audiobook is narrated by Jonathan Davis who is simply superb.
47 of 51 people found this review helpful
The good about this book: Jonathan Davis, who did a great job, as usual. The plot was intricate and fascinating, the characters were all very complex and multi-layered. It's a very scary and creepily possible sounding future, so this book was great, except for...
the bad: I could only listen to a little bit of this each day, and as result, it's taken forever to finish it. I know it's supposed to be dystopian, but good heavens...it was such a relentess bummer, I had to turn it off and go listen to some current news (war in Iraq, bank failures, rising foreclosures rates, jellyfish invasions, etc) just to lighten my mood. In addition, this novel is so crammed with repetitive exposition, it made me scream more than once in the car, "She's obedient and she doesn't like it...he's an incorruptible fighter and a hero to the people...he's afraid he'll get killed with a machete before he buys his clipper ship...I got it, I got it, I GOT IT!"
It took a lot of patience to finish this, so I can't exactly call it gripping--but it was a very fascinating trip.
96 of 106 people found this review helpful
Jonathan Davis MUST have been paid by the minute. I can't imagine any other reason for the glacial narration. Fortunately my Audible app lets me change the narration speed. I found "1.5 times" was about right. As a result, this was a considerably shorter book than I'd expected!
Now, the story: The Windup Girl is a fable of a world without fossil fuels, where mega-corporations claim Intellectual Property rights over genetically engineered cereal crops while millions starve. It's a story set in world where gene-hacked sub-class are quite literally, lower than trash.
It's story of contamination, where disease, superstition and revolution spread in the same way as suspicion, fear and depravity.
The Windup Girl exists in a place of poverty and decay, where your next mouthful of fresh fruit might see you coughing up blood in the gutter, and where the corrupted remnants of the police have become the most feared gang in the district.
It's challenging. Especially because of it's heavy reliance on Thai culture. So don't expect an easy page turner. That said, I absolutely loved it.
3 of 3 people found this review helpful
I'm two thirds the way through this novel, but I feel sufficiently confident thus far to post some comments. It's easy to appreciate why it has won significant awards.
Whereas I did not enjoy other works by the author, I may have to re-read and give them a second chance after this book.
It's hard not to use superlatives to describe 'Wind-up Girl'. From the start, this book is, in my subjective opinion, fascinating, stunning and visionary. I think some significant credit is also due to the excellent narration of Jonathan Davis (who, I'm noting, does a good job on several other books)
A twenty second century Bangkok is richly described and experienced through the lives of the central characters.
By moving between several characters whose lives intersect the novel keeps a freshness going between chapters.
It's not a hard science SF novel, in that the author does not get bogged down in the science of genomics, but neither does he commit any major howlers in his inferences and extrapolations. The characters are well fleshed and the story has a realistic progression. An entirely original work, though with perhaps more than a nod toward the works of other great authors such as Phillip.K.Dick. I anticipate that this will see a major cinematic adaptation at some point.
7 of 8 people found this review helpful
author got ridiculed. but how the story was elaborately told, amazing. would recommend to all.
This book is a thoughtful inquiry into our possible future with big questions surrounding GMO's and their place in Bacigalupi's future world. Bacigalupi turns the question of GMO's on its head, reasoning that they are an extension of nature and imperative to the survival of his future society. All of this is very interesting and combined with a host of gritty characters the book is a great read. Bacigalupi's character development is thorough but could easily be criticised for slowing down the story and dragging out the middle section of the narrative. The other negative is the brutal sexual abuse suffered by the windup girl, it's enough to caution readers with a trigger warning, there's a scene in chapter 3 and chapter 29 but the rest of the book is ok. Overall, this book is worth the read, persist through the middle section to be rewarded by an interesting twist at the end.