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The Windup Girl Paperback – May 5, 2015
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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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Dystopian, science fiction, clones, fantastic and complex plot line, well developed characters, a little dark and disturbing in places but will make you think about a variety of philosophical issues.
The author has a well developed vocabulary and a lovely command of language. If you like to read a book that will have you using a dictionary a few times, read this book.
I tend to not describe the contents of books so as not to spoil it for future readers, but if you like a little dark, dystopian, sci-fi you are missing out if you haven't read this book. I will definitely be picking up other titles by this author.
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.
Much more interesting to me, he wrote about a humanity that suffered near-apocalyptic change and adapted. The particulars of the adaptation: genetic reworking of plants, animals and people as well as reliance on systems of nonelectric, nonchemical potential engine "batteries" that change everything from transportation to computing and weaponry. Despite some serious omissions (wind, solar, and water--particularly the last two, because his setting of a levee-dependent Bangkok would have plenty of sun and a huge potential water power source), he created a convincing and engrossing system that picked at my brain. While at first the squalor and discomfort facing the denizens of this world seemed bleak, it really is an optimistic vision, because somehow the world, governments, countries, individuals, and systems adapted without entering a new medieval period.
Though, there should have been more war between nations, at least the way I understood the role of the "calorie companies" and the various plagues mentioned in the book. But, I don't feel like that was well explained.
That backdrop is used to embue the characters with their motivation through which the plot develops. The plot involves the evolution of status and power of individuals whether they start as an individual belonging to a powerful group, an individual of the common people or a slave. The twists and turns of that evolution is what make this novel an enjoyable read. The rise and fall of each individual weaves the theme of the story: each individual motivation interacts with others to determine the "final" outcome.
The final outcome hints at the power that the Wind Up Girl (an illegal/disposable non-person) might obtain. How she might get that and who could give it to her is left as the teaser.