- Paperback: 359 pages
- Publisher: Night Shade Books; 1st edition (2009)
- Language: English
- ISBN-10: 1597801585
- ISBN-13: 978-1597801584
- Product Dimensions: 6 x 1 x 9 inches
- Shipping Weight: 1 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
- Average Customer Review: 854 customer reviews
- Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #41,346 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
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The Windup Girl Paperback – 2009
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From Bookmarks Magazine
Reviewers seemed to struggle with The Windup Girl, but in the same way one struggles with a great work of art. All were bewildered by the world Bacigalupi has created and by his ability to create characters that effectively dramatize its many differences from (as well as crucial similarities to) our own. Yet all felt the need to dwell upon some aspect of the book that did not quite sit right with them--whether it was the intense (though not gratuitous) violence or the sleights of hand Bacigalupi uses to craft the plot. Perhaps such reactions were not surprising, though, for a book that many hailed as a masterpiece of the unsettling.
WINNER OF THE HUGO AWARD, THE NEBULA AWARD, THE LOCUS AWARD, THE COMPTON CROOK AWARD, AND THE CAMPBELL MEMORIAL AWARD
It’s ridiculous how good this book is. . . . Bacigalupi’s vision is almost as rich and shocking as William Gibson’s vision was in 1984 . . . I hope he writes 10 sequels.”
Lev Grossman, TIME
Reminiscent of Philip K. Dick’s Blade Runner.... densely packed with ideas about genetic manipulation, distribution of resources, the social order, and environmental degradation ... science fiction with an environmental message, but one that does not get in the way of its compelling story.”
Sacramento Book Review
This complex, literate and intensely felt tale, which recalls both William Gibson and Ian McDonald at their very best ... clearly one of the finest science fiction novels of the year.”
Publishers Weekly (starred review)
A captivating look at a dystopic future that seems all too possible. East meets
West in a clash of cultures brilliantly portrayed in razor-sharp images, tension-building pacing, and sharply etched characters.”
Library Journal (starred review)
"When it hits its sweet-spot, The Windup Girl embodies what SF does best of all: it remakes reality in compelling, absorbing and thought-provoking ways, and it lives on vividly in the mind."
"Bacigalupi never slides into moralism or judgement ... Ultimately that's what makes this debut novel so exciting. It's rare to find a writer who can create such well-shaded characters while also building a weird new future world."
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Windup Girl is not an easy novel to read. It's long, there are a lot of characters, the world is complex, people's motivations are diverse as are their personalities. The local, future Bangkok, also takes some time to adjust to, at least for me since I have never been to Bangkok. It takes a while to sink into the world and know your way around. That is, as well as any of the characters do at any rate, which is not very well. Everyone has a different view of what's going on and is keeping secrets from all of the other characters. No one is simple. No one is easy to relate to. The Windup Girl, Emiko, is probably the most identifiable character, which says a lot.
I enjoyed the novel. I enjoyed the challenge of reading and understanding. I enjoyed the author's depth of understanding of this alien landscape. The use of Thai words and concepts gives the world substance and character.
While I am giving it five stars -- which it deserves -- I caution potential readers that this is not a book for everyone. If you're looking for something light and uplifting, this isn't it.
One last point, a negative one, there is a huge unresolved issue at the end of the book. Normally I can forgive authors for not clearing up every little thing, but this was like getting punched in the face. Come to think of it, I think I'll knock it down to four stars just for that.
The book is set after the rise and subsequent fall of globalism, in a time when international trade is really just rebuilding itself. The Kingdom of Thailand sits as a rare, independent nation amidst a sea of global warming collapsed environment and gene warfare induced famines and diseases. And inside it, the Trade Ministry and the Environment Ministry are waging an idealogical war. Is isolation, a weird form of 'nature-ism', and fear of the outside keeping the country safe? Or do they need the mega-corporations' genetically modified grains to safely feed their people at the cost of being indebted to those mega-corps? And just like the proverbial butterfly that sets off a hurricane, one illegal wind-up girl accidentally ignites the dynamite of change.
Bacigalupi does so many things right -- the atmosphere, setting, dialog, completely unique story, etc. -- but he appears to lack trust in the reader. It's true that he has a complex location and a complex cast of characters operating inside a very rich cultural environment. Basic workings of the environment are often repeated to the point that it's difficult as a reader to get really engaged. It is not until the last third of the book, where the action really picks up, that Bacigalupi appears to be too busy trying to get across everything that's happening that he forgets to keep re-explaining things and the reader's engagement is really achieved.
Additionally, this book is rather poorly edited. I read the hardback edition and there were a somewhat distracting number of simple typos (spelling, number or gender matching, extra words in a sentence that clearly should have been deleted).
The "new people" have been designed to serve the remnants of mankind as sex slaves, specialized labor and warriors. One new person female sex slave (a windup girl) discovers that her creators have accidentally given her some unexpected capabilities that give her an advantage over old style humans.
I came to read Paolo's books with "The Water Knife" and enjoyed it so much I searched for his earlier works such as this.