Tatiana's Reviews > The Windup Girl

The Windup Girl by Paolo Bacigalupi
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Apr 06, 11

bookshelves: nebula, 2011, dystopias-post-apocalyptic, hugo, locus
Read from April 02 to 06, 2011

3.5 stars

Unfortunately, I ended up enjoying The Windup Girl significantly less I than I thought I would.

I blame it on two things:

1) the narrator read this novel way too slowly for my taste;

2) the world of the novel was a little too familiar after reading Ship Breaker and Pump Six and Other Stories. Bacigalupi's version of the future where natural resources are exhausted and the world is enslaved by genehacking "calorie men," who have total control of food and energy supply and who are the source of multiple plagues, is still horrifying, but no longer surprising. The novelty is gone and with it, I assume, a good portion of the thrill some other readers new to Paolo Bacigalupi might experience.

What I did like, though, was story of Emiko, a windup girl, a being genetically engineered to serve and please. Emiko is an unwitting participant in a series of sinister plans to destroy Thailand's long-held independence by calorie men. I should have been interested in politics and intrigues, but I admit, I was much more taken by her personal story.

Emiko's struggle to understand what she is, if she is a human at all, even though everyone around her thinks her trash that can be abused or mulched at any point, and which part of her genetically manipulated self is her own and which was put into her at some scientist's whim - that is what drove the novel for me.

The nature of humanity and the consequences of genetic manipulations have already been explored by some fine writers in the past - by Kazuo Ishiguro in Never Let Me Go and by Margaret Atwood in Oryx and Crake and The Year of the Flood, but Bacigalupi still managed to bring something new to the table.

For that alone The Windup Girl should be read. And, of course, there is also that very grim picture of our future, dark but possible.
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Reading Progress

04/02/2011 page 47
13.0% 3 comments
04/06/2011 page 286
80.0% 2 comments
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Comments (showing 1-10 of 10) (10 new)

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message 1: by Vinaya (new)

Vinaya This book's cover is so gorgeous, I would read it for that alone! :)


message 2: by Melissa (new)

Melissa Pilakowski I found out today that this has connecting characters with Ship Breaker! I must read it now.


Tatiana Really? I didn't know that.


message 4: by Melissa (new)

Melissa Pilakowski I heard it at a book talk at a YA conference today. So assuming the speaker was correct...


Joel 1) the narrator read this novel way too slowly for my taste

i suggest looking into your iPod's "faster" setting (if you don't have an iPod, other models usually offer something similar). that's how i listened to this one.

there isn't any character crossover with shipbreaker, but they are probably set in the same world.


Tatiana I have an iPod and will try it next time. I also saw you mentions somewhere that the 1st RR Martin's book is read that way too. I am planning to give it a listen some time soon, so I will definitely have to do something about the speed or it will drive me nuts.

Does it sound normal though?

The windup girl and the yellow card guy were in one of Bacigalupi's short stories. I didn't recognize any characters from Ship Breaker or maybe I just didn't remember their names?


Joel it sounds pretty normal to me. instead of speeding it up, i think it removes spaces from between words and syllables? i'm not quite sure. i do it with everything i listen to though. you get used to it.


Catie When I do it on my Sansa, it does speed up the voices - not significantly, but enough to make the narrator's voice get more squeaky. Poor Jonathan Davis, LOL! I think I'm his only fan. I'll admit, he kind of reminds me of William Shatner sometimes. I wonder what I would have thought about this book if I had read Pump Six first? I didn't notice any parallel characters in Ship Breaker either.


message 9: by Laura the Highland Hussy (last edited Apr 06, 2011 06:28PM) (new)

Laura the Highland Hussy fabulous review. This isn't my normal cuppa, but your review even has me adding it!
and this wasn't even a 5 star book for you!


Jason I agree that the audiobook performance is too slow (tried listening at a faster speed, but it didn't sound right). I think Jonathan Davis is an excellent narrator and many of his other performances don't drag so slowly (Snow Crash is one of the best audiobooks I've ever listened to). The voice acting is terrific through throughout the performance; I just wish there weren't such long pauses and slow pacing.


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